OK I know this is a local issue and no one here is from Massachusetts, but I thought some of the members herein - especially those of you who lean right - might enjoy the hypocrisy, uh I mean the irony of this request.
Prior to 2004, Massachusetts had a law whereby if a Senator left office, the governor would appoint an interim successor until a special election was held. Obviously anyone the governor appointed would have the advantage of incumbency.
In the summer of 2004, it became apparent that Sen. John Kerry was going to win the Presidential nomination. At the time, Massachusetts had a Republican governor (Mitt Romney). So the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature passed a law getting rid of the governor's ability to appoint an interim Senator in case Kerry won.
Now flash forward to 2009. The Massachusetts governor is now a Democrat (Deval Patrick), Kennedy's health is failing and all of a sudden they want to do away with the 2004 law so that the governor can make an interim appointment. Kennedy is waxing eloquently about the Commonwealth's need to be fully represented in the United States Senate, which is a pretty ironic statement since I don't believe he has been present hardly at all during the current session.
I can make this up folks
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality amid a critical time in the national health care debate, has privately asked the governor and legislative leaders to change the succession law to guarantee that Massachusetts will not lack a Senate vote in the event of his death.
In a personal, sometimes wistful letter sent Tuesday to Governor Deval L. Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Kennedy asks that Patrick be given the authority to appoint someone to the seat temporarily while voters choose a new senator in a special election.
While Kennedy, who is battling cancer, does not specifically mention his illness or the health reform debate raging in Washington, the implication from his letter is clear: He is trying to make sure that the leading cause of his life -- better health coverage for all -- advances in the event of his death.
Kennedy said in his letter, which was obtained by the Globe, that he supports the current law, which gives voters the power to fill a Senate vacancy. But he said the state and country need two Massachusetts senators.
"I strongly support that law and the principle that the people should elect their senator,” Kennedy wrote. ''I also believe it is 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.''
Under a 2004 law, if Kennedy were to die or step down, Massachusetts voters would select his successor through a special election, to be held within five months after the vacancy. But the law makes no provisions for Massachusetts to be represented in the Senate in the interim. In the meantime, President Obama's controversial plan to overhaul the nation's health care system -- whose fate may hinge on one or two votes -- could come before Congress.
"I am now writing to you about an issue that concerns me deeply -- the continuity of representation for Massachusetts should a vacancy occur," Kennedy wrote.
Kennedy, in his letter, also urged the governor, in order to ensure a fair special election, to obtain an "explicit personal commitment" from his appointee not to seek the office on a permanent basis.
Separately, a Kennedy family confidant, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the letter was private, said the senator's wife, Vicki Kennedy, is not interested in being a temporary appointee or running in a special election.
“Her focus is her husband and her family,” the confidant said. “To her, there is only one Senator Kennedy."
DeLeo and Murray, in a joint statement to the Globe, did not address the substance of Kennedy's request, saying, "We have great respect for the senator and what he continues to do for our Commonwealth and our nation. It is our hope that he will continue to be a voice for the people of Massachusetts as long as he is able."
Patrick said in a statement: "It's typical of Ted Kennedy to be thinking ahead, and about the people of Massachusetts, when the rest of us are thinking about him. Diane and I continue to pray for the restoration of the Senator’s health and the comfort of his family."
Kennedy advisers were adamant that the timing of the letter did not reflect any imminent emergency in the health of the senator, who has been battling brain cancer since May 2008. Rather, it was sent this week after the Globe began making inquiries to key Beacon Hill officials over murmurings that some politicians were pushing for a change in the law.
Kennedy aides said the senator never liked the five-month vacancy that was created by the 2004 law, but his dislike took on new urgency not only because of his illness, but because Senate Democrats could need every vote possible on health care.