Sen. Edward M. Kennedy urged Massachusetts lawmakers last week to give Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick the power to name his successor. But with reactions to Kennedy’s proposal mixed – and with the legislature not due back until after Labor Day – it appears for now that Massachusetts will be without a second senator until a special election can be held early next year
While many states allow a governor to fill a vacant Senate state, Massachusetts Democrats changed their state’s law in 2004 to prevent then Gov. Mitt Romney – a Republican – from naming a replacement for Sen. John Kerry if he had defeated George W. Bush in the presidential race.
Under the 2004 law, the governor must set a special election to fill a vacant Senate seat between 145 and 160 days after the vacancy occurs – meaning, in this case, that a special election would be held in the second half of January 2010.
In a letter to lawmakers last week, Kennedy said that the governor should once again be allowed to name a replacement senator, calling it “vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election.”