Massachusetts legislature to consider interim Kennedy successor

A legislative committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would allow for a temporary replacement

Published August 31, 2009 7:15PM (EDT)

In the wake of Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, a joint committee of the Massachusetts legislature has moved up a hearing on a bill that would allow Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint a temporary successor. The hearing was originally scheduled for October, but now will be held in early September -- it's a sign, the Boston Globe says, "that Beacon Hill is moving to accommodate Kennedy's request that Massachusetts maintain two voices in the Senate."

There had been some hesitation about Kennedy's request initially, as Democrats in the legislature had changed the law to remove the governor's ability to appoint a successor back in 2004, when there was a possibility that Sen. John Kerry would be elected president and then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, would get to name his replacement. That law change smacked of politics, and legislators can expect to take a hit on this one, too, as the move would -- though it does seem like common sense -- essentially be made in order to give Democrats an extra vote on healthcare reform, one of Kennedy's primary causes. But Patrick has come out to support such a change.

Whether or not a bill to change the law passes, there'll be a special election for the seat. Patrick has just announced that it will be held on Jan. 19 of next year.

By Salon Staff

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