The Massachusetts House of Representatives has voted to let Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick appoint an interim successor for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, overruling Republican calls to wait until after a special election to fill it.
The bill, which passed 95-58, now moves to the state Senate where leaders have called a formal session at noon today, The Associated Press reported. Its chances of passing there are unclear, but if it does, Gov. Patrick has said he would sign the bill.
Democrats are trying to make sure Mass. does not have to wait until a special election on Jan. 19 to fill both Senate positions. But Republicans charge hypocrisy since it was Democrats who last changed succession law in 2004 to prevent then Gov. Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican to the Senate should Sen. John Kerry win his race for the presidency.
The Senate seat vacancy caused by Kennedy's death from brain cancer on Aug. 25 broke the Democrats' lock on a filibuster-proof majority in Congress. Kennedy lobbied lawmakers in his waning months to change state law so his successor could lobby for health reform – Kennedy’s signature issue -- without interruption.
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Former Gov. Michael Dukakis, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Paul Kirk Jr.; former Massachusetts Senate President Robert Travaglini, former Kennedy staff chief Nick Littlefield, Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree and former state Treasurer Shannon O'Brien are all thought to be possible candidates for appointment, according to the AP.
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