Appointment of Senator Kennedy’s Successor

Click here for the text of the proposal that Senator Kennedy has made regarding succession to his seat, if and when he resigns from it:  In essence, the people would vote within 160 days of the vacancy, but the Governor would appoint an interim Senator to serve during those 160 days, someone who would not be a candidate to fill out the Senator’s remaining term.  Click here for the Globe’s editorial in support of it.

It’s the month of August, so nothing is going to happen right away on it.  And I wasn’t in the legislature in 2004 when the current process was created, so it’s not an issue that I have confronted and not an issue that I have a committed position on.

I tend to think that having an interim senator appointed while an election goes on tends to make sense.  The people are going to get to speak on the same schedule either way.  The issue is whether we leave the seat vacant while candidates campaign.   It’s possible that our choice would have important consequences for national legislation in the closely balanced Senate (closely balanced as to the filibuster termination threshold).

On the other hand, it sets a bad precedent for us to change the rules every few years whenever we want to achieve a certain electoral outcome.

I’m cognizant of the importance of the decision and will make it deliberately — probably not finalizing it until I’ve had the chance to hear some floor debate on it.  I certainly welcome your input in the interim.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

46 replies on “Appointment of Senator Kennedy’s Successor”

  1. Wasn’t it Ted Kennedy that pushed the law change(When Kerry was running in 2004)that he is now wanting to change?


    It’s time to let the corrupt politics of the Kennedys fade away…

    I’m telling ya! The Pols on Beacon Hill are digging themselves deeper and deeper by the day.

    If you guys/gals make this change for Teddy, I think your all done in 2010, it’s probably too late already for you all.

  2. I am also disturbed by the idea of another Democratic flip flop on the rules with this specific political goal in mind. Will, I regard your service in the legislature as one with strong regard for ethics; I know you recognize the public cynicism that is a result of shameless gamesmanship for which Massachusetts is particularly infamous.

    The health care debate has greater challenges than this one issue.

  3. I like the pragmatism of the Kennedy proposal (and note, I am NOT a Kennedy fan, I agree, it’s overtime that he fades away). The proposal itself seems very reasonable, maintaining our representation in the Senate for the interim time. The very reasonable “kicker” that the interim Senator cannot be a candidate maintains a level playing field for next election. I’d support this.

  4. In itself, the concept — insuring having two senators representing MA — is a good one. It’s the partisan reasoning behind the request that I object to. How about suggesting a temp Senator from the minority party, i.e. a Republican? That would quiet the skeptics and would give us two Senators until the voters elect someone.

  5. Let’s look at the context.

    1) Solving the health care crisis is a requirement for our society. We simply cannot go on this way.
    2) It appears that most, if not all, Republicans in Washington have decided that it is in their interest to block health care reform, in part because they believe that will weaken Obama and and Democrats and make it easier for them in the 2010 elections.
    3) Obama’s only hope for getting a meaningful health care reform, even if he abandons the “public option”, will be if he has 60 votes in the Senate. He therefore needs every one of those votes.
    4) Kennedy’s vote is likely to be crucial in getting the bill passed in the Senate.
    5) If he is not there to vote the Senate could fail to pass the bill.
    6) Therefore, although it is not pretty, it does seem prudent to enable a vacancy in the Commonwealth’s representative in the US Senate to be filled immediately. The provision that such a person would be required to pledge that he not run for the position in the by-election makes a lot of sense. I suppose there could also be a clear requirement that the Governor designate but not appoint such a person unless and until their vote was required to pass a critical piece of legislation.

    I just do not want to rise failing health care reform because of the lack of one more vote in the Senate.

  6. To the victor go the spoils. The party in power should be able to immediately replace a vacancy.

    Do we want to be another Minnesota with only one Senator for months?

    Do we want the eventual health reform bill to be defeated by one vote? I don’t!

    1. Hey Jim! was that your view in 2004 when Romney was Gov? or does the phrase “to the victors go the spoils” only apply when it favors your party?

  7. I have to be honest with you. I am a HUGE fan of Senator Kennedy. I have dreaded the day he no longer represents us in the Senate. But it’s just wrong. We can’t keep changing the rules to benefit ourselves. Someone has to take the high road.

    Faith Morgan

  8. I don’t envy you this choice. On the one hand, it would be a shame for Massachusetts not to have a vote on the health care bill that Kennedy has spent his life developing. On the other hand, flip-flopping laws at this point when faith in government (especially in MA) is so tenuous, could cause irreparable damage. I’m going to trust your judgment on this one.

  9. Will,

    I am in support of the proposal for reasons no one else has expressed.

    First, I see Governor Patrick as a Republican in Democrat’s clothing. The state Treasurer has left the Democratic party. That leaves a Governor’s field that I see as four Republicans and no Democrats.

    If Ted Kennedy resigns, why should we automatically assume that the Governor will appoint a Democrat? It is more likely to be one of his old business buddies.

    That said, we should look at the question Ted Kennedy raises — of Massachusetts surviving with only one Senator. I am sure that Kennedy did not mean this as criticism of John Kerry, but I will say it. Kerry just seems a little lost for my tastes. We need the added representation.

    I am not a supporter of Governor Patrick, but I would be willing to take my chances on whomever he appoints — Democrat or Republican.

    Whoever gets appointed is in for less than six months and can’t run for election. That means he will be doing no fundraising and just possibly could start making decisions in the public interest. He could tell all the deep-pocketed lobbyists to take a hike. Sure, it is only six months, but that public service approach is exactly the attitude that EVERY senator should have.

    Steve Kaiser

  10. I think some form of the proposal should be enacted. Perhaps it should include a “one time only” provision. It would be a shame to have to wait for many months before we have a second Senator in Washington. My assumption is that Gov. Patrick would pick a good interum person.

  11. Will, I heartily support changing the law so that Massachusetts has two votes in the US Senate. It may look bad to Jim Lenkauskas and K. Knisely, but I don’t see this vote giving the Republicans control of the Legislature in the 2010 elections and I don’t see “irreparable harm.”

    Republicans shamelessly backed Norm Coleman as he denied Minnesota its full representation in the Senate for 200 days–and now they want Democrats to be ashamed that Massachusetts will make sure it has full representation in the Senate for historic votes to protect climate change and protect the health of 40 million uninsured Americans? When you weigh the good done by the anti-global warming legislation and healthcare reform versus the perceptions and complaints, this is not a hard choice. It’s no choice at all.

  12. Will,

    I am strongly opposed to changing this law. It was just changed a few years ago to what it is at Sen. Kennedy’s request. The change he has now requested was proposed by the Republicans in 2004 and was rejected by the Democrats in the legislature. This is just more of the hypocritical partisan politics that I, and many people, are increasingly sick of. We have a law that was good enough 4 years ago and I don’t know what has changed that would justify this change. If Sen. Kennedy is so concerned he should announce his resignation for 5 months from now and get the existing process going so we don’t have to be without a senator. He is the problem here not the law.

  13. I agree that this would look like a flip-flop and an act of hypocrisy… but that said, the original bill was misguided, and we should correct (that is, repeal) it. If that gets some egg on some legislators’ faces, well, so be it; you reap what you sow. Many states already have provisions for their governors appointing interim Senators; it’s a right explicitly provided for by the Constitution (17th Amendment).

  14. It was Ted Kennedy that pushed the change to benefit his party when Governor Romney was in office. This is another shameless act on the part of the Senator. Had he really a love for Massachusetts, he would have resigned immediately on learning about the diagnosis.

    I’m afraid Ted Kennedy loves power. End of story. He should be denied his request.

  15. First off let me say I’m an Independant! I think for myself, NO “party” tells me how to think.
    This whole “fix” for the Kennedys stinks of corruption.

    And if the Healthcare Bill includes a socialist government run entity I hope it fails by more than one vote.

  16. The issue of national health care is so fundamentally important to our overall well-being, one that has not been successfully solved so many times previously because of political considerations unrelated to the public good. If one senatorial vote is going to be so critical in achieveing this aim, then perhaps we should “bite the bullet” and risk incurring the wrath of the reactionary forces in order to reach success in this overwhelmingly necessary enterprise.

    1. I feel exactly the same. I don’t think the law should have been changed in the first place, but am not willing to risk health care reform and one vote may make all the difference!

  17. Will –

    Thanks for your solicitation of opinion on this matter.

    I worked for Ted Kennedy in 1980. No one I know worked harder and at greater sacrifice. And while I respect all that he has done in the Senate for Massachusetts and the nation, its the people’s right to choose the next person to fill the Senate seat. Frankly, I am more than just a little bit annoyed at this 11th-hour attempt to alter the political process on behalf of someone who has normally been associated with protecting civil liberties. I hope you oppose this without reservation.

    And in addition I would like something in the way of a directive or consensus resolution from our state legislature asking the US Congress to repeal the Patriot Act and to restore the supremacy of both the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These are fundamental rights that the founding fathers never envisioned as anything other than the law of the land. While it is true that extraordinary circumstances have in the past required exceptions, in every instance that I know of the exceptions were temporary. When the circumstances were met, the Constitution and Bill of Rights were restored. Its time for action on this.


    Joe Joseph

  18. Unfortunately, much of the electorate (both MA and national) votes tribally (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green, or whatever) meaning they give greater weight to the party than to the merits of the candidate. Then we have a partisan legislature (and in this case we are talking about a national one) that mirrors this tribalism.

    If you accept that this will be the case for a long time, then I see no choice but to come up with a temporary replacement from the same party as the candidate who was elected on that basis. This should be done independent of the party of the Governor or any other official. But it should be done speedily.

  19. I’m amazed how many people posting on here seem to think Senator Kennedy was behind the change in the law that was made in 2004. I just checked the entire Globe archives from that debate, and there’s no record of Sen. Kennedy publicly weighing in. Sounds like we have a lot of conspiracy theorists posting on here.

    Anyway, having reread all the articles on the subject, what I found is that the Legislature passed the current law as a purely political move in response to then-Lt. Gov. Healey’s purely political suggestion in June 2004 that Sen. Kerry resign. This emphasized the fact that then-Gov. Romney was itching to appoint a replacement who, under the law at the time, would have served until the end of 2006. When Romney realized that he’d just shot himself in the foot, he backpedaled and tried to broker a compromise similar to the one Senator Kennedy is now proposing (except with no guarantee that his appointment wouldn’t seek the seat in the special election). Interestingly, Sec. of State Galvin openly supported the compromise that the Legislature ultimately rejected.

    To cut to the chase, I think we just need to accept that the law that was passed in 2004 was purely political response to a purely political move by the Republicans, neither side was right at the time, and the law now needs to be fixed. I’d be a bit leery of the proposed fix except that it includes a provision that the appointed replacement can’t run in the general election. Also, I really don’t think we need to be the next Minnesota in this case.

    Regarding the possibility of a backlash, I think it boils down to another one of those electoral paradoxes– it will make people mad at the Legislature as a whole but not at their individual legislators (just as a majority of Americans consistently disapprove of Congress, regardless of who’s in power, but a majority of Americans approve of their own Representative). If anything, I would’ve expected a backlash over the sales tax increase (which I still don’t support), but since even that passed quietly in the end, I think this issue will, too, even if Senator Kennedy’s proposed change is passed.

    UPDATE ————————-
    Okay. Looks like I didn’t check the record far enough back. The bill had been simmering on the Legislature’s docket since March 2004 when Kennedy pushed the Legislature three months later to get on with it. Around the same time, Healey made her comment that Kerry should resign (before the bill was passed). I could still find no record of Kennedy weighing in one way or the other on the issue that later came up of whether the Governor should be able to appoint a temporary successor until the special election could be held; he just didn’t want Romney to be able to appoint a replacement who’d serve for more than two years without the voters getting a say.

  20. As for the Kennedy proposal, why doesn’t the legislature just cut to the chase and write a law that states that if the governor is a Democrat he can appoint a Senator, but if the governor is a Republican, an election must be held.

    Seriously, when the writing of law becomes this political (we all live in this state and know the ugly history of this issue), there is only one word: corruption! The legislature is eventually puttting its very legitimacy at stake.

    No matter what mental gymnastics you use, rewriting law like this undermines our “rule of law”.

    1. I would basically agree here. “Rule of law and not of men” basically means that the law or application of it shouldn’t change just because you don’t like how it applies to a particular person. In 2004, Republicans argued for just this kind of provision, but it was Ted Kennedy and the Democrats who expressly rejected it. It would appear that with their current turnabout, they were never arguing on principle, but rather for “rule by men”. Same goes for those who would formulate a position on this with respect to the tactical voting that will occur in Washington regarding the health care reform proposals. One’s position ought to exist independent of any particular vote in Washington, and certainly not because of it.

      Having said that, the Republicans were right in 2004, and it would be better to have the governor appoint someone to the post, preferably temporarily until an election can be held. I think that the best outcome here would to see those reps and senators who were on Beacon Hill in 2004 to maintain consistent positions as they held in 2004, and allow new reps and senators to come to their own conclusions.

  21. I am for the interim law being passed so that we will not be without a Senator during this critical time of passing a universal healthcare law.


  22. Will, I agree with Jennifer Watson. She speaks for me as well.

    Healthcare is a very important issue but having some integrity on Beacon Hill is important also.

    Sam James

  23. Hey Rep. Brownsberger:

    We can take the example of filling Senate seats for Hillary Clinton’s NY seat and Barack Obama’s Illinois seat, both which were controversial, one that led to the decline in NY Gov. Patterson’s approval ratings and one that led to the impeachment of Gov. Blagojovich from Illinois.

    There are pro’s and cons within this well poised debate. Candidates have to run elections must raise campaign funds, which can field a host of issues, such as adhering to special interests, having a short time to campaign, which leaves the electorate (that’s us) short time to get to know the candidates who are running. What happened with Burris, the individual who filled Obama’s seat, often times a governor appointing a Senator could overlook the qualifications, and down the road, the Senator’s performance can be impacted by the appointment in way of favorable political connections. Senator’s end up being appointed based on many things other than on their qualifications, and the people who are being represented have no say in it at all.

    The progression of appointment can be faulty, too, especially if the governor making the appointment chooses to put their friends or those who donated to the governor’s campaign. This is when decisions are made on matters other than merit.

    Therefore, if there is a way for MA to combine an electoral/appointment. I like Senator Kennedy, but I prefer a special election. An interim Senator can be appointed so that the office remains open, but at the same time, a special election should be launched. Senator Russ Feingold spoke on his website back in January 2009 regarding the issues related to governor-filled seats:

    Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, issued the following statement today on plans to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end appointments to the Senate by state governors and require special elections in the event of a Senate seat vacancy.

    “The controversies surrounding some of the recent gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats make it painfully clear that such appointments are an anachronism that must end. In 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution gave the citizens of this country the power to finally elect their senators. They should have the same power in the case of unexpected mid term vacancies, so that the Senate is as responsive as possible to the will of the people. I plan to introduce a constitutional amendment this week to require special elections when a Senate seat is vacant, as the Constitution mandates for the House, and as my own state of Wisconsin already requires by statute. As the Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I will hold a hearing on this important topic soon.”


  24. I agree entirely with the general principle that a vacant seat should be filled by an election rather than appointment and that there should be a reasonable period for such an election process.

    However the upcoming Health Care bill will be a close vote in the Senate and we will need Massachusetts represented in full when that vote comes up. I dearly hope it will be Senator Kennedy who can make that vote.

    If that is not the case, would agree to this being a “one time only” provision and that the appointee be prohibited from running for election. It should be an unusual exception to the rule.

    What about a “wait and see” approach. We address this if and when it is needed.

    1. Wow. You agree with the principle of an election but because you want the Health Care reform passed you choose to look the other way…you sir are without principles. Have you considered a career in politics?
      Will, if you’re asking me I say we go to election and if you choose to do so, you can run for it! Senator Brownsberger… has a nice ring to it. FYI I share Kathleen Knisely’s sentiments in total.

  25. The Senator cannot keep changing the rules to benefit his party. Politics should be held to a higher standard than a mere game/power play.
    In order to not leave the seat vacant Senator Kennedy should announce his resignation now. My understanding is he has only been present of a very small minority of votes this Congress. He should have done the painful and right things and resigned already. The second best thing he can do is resign now and serve to the best of his ability until the election to replace him, which is set 5 months or so from when the resignation is announced.

  26. One of the great benefits of having this Administration, is that I don’t spend so much time disagreeing with it that I fail to look at what a “sausage factory” we have in the Congress. We are in the midst of critical issues such as healthcare that will shape the future of this country, its economy, social process and national defense. The conservative right has tried to shut down the legitimate political process spreading misinformation and fear, not unlike that which they say they oppose. At this point we have bigger fish to fry than what Massachusetts State politics looks like. Senator Kennedy is a key person in the healthcare debate and is virtually disabled. We need every resource, voice and vote we can find to pass this legislation. The State Legislature should think past the obvious “continuity” issues and rather to facilitating a national healthcare system – One as forward thinking as the one it enacted here in Massachusetts — That is the real issue.

  27. The law should never have been changed in 2004, and now we all see why. It was a short-sighted move for political expediency that is now biting the Democrats in the behind. But spite is a very poor reason for leaving a bad law in place.

    It doesn’t matter if Ted Kennedy backed the 2004 change in the law. It doesn’t matter if Democrats are now mainly motivated because the current law now hurts them. Both of these things are probably true, and they are irrelevant to the decision now before the legislature.

    What does matter is that losing representation in Congress for months is far more harmful than eating crow. I encourage the governor and legislature to take the long view here and fix the mistake of 2004.

    Eric Helmuth

  28. Rep. Brownsberger,

    I understand the charges of hypocrisy being leveled at Sen. Kennedy and the democrats. However, I am hard pressed to think of a better solution to the problem than the one being proposed. Specifically, if I were designing the rules from scratch with an eye towards providing the best possible outcome of the state of Massachusetts, independent of who the governor is or what party he/she belongs to, I think this is a reasonable proposal.

    As illustrated by the shennanigans in Illinois following the election of President Obama, simply allowing the governor to appoint a replacement for an open senate seat is a terrible idea. Generally, the best option is always to allow the people to select the replacement. However, given the amount of time required to conduct a clean and fair election, there will necessarily be a significant length of time in which the Commonwealth is without full representation in the Senate. Therefore, I think that Sen. Kennedy’s proposal of allowing a temporary replacement who is not allowed to run for the office in the special election (and I would propose in the next general election, either) is an excellent way to design such a system.

    While you may or may not agree with my reasoning above, I urge you to think not of the short term consequences as they apply to Sen. Kennedy’s situation, but rather that you ask what the appropriate policy should be to provide the best representation for the citizens of the Commonwealth. As illustrated by the many responses to your question, this is a situation that is complicated by the hypocrisy of Sen. Kennedy’s reversal of position and general anger towards Gov. Patrick. However, I would argue that the point of representative government is to remove some of the immediate passion of the short term to allow reps such as yourself to consider and make decisions for the best long term interests of the Commonwealth.



  29. I would support the goals behind this legislation. It makes sense to have a special election within 160 days, rather than waiting for the next regular election. However, it also makes sense for the state to have two Senators as quickly as possible. i would have a question, and two suggestions. First, I would ask if it is at all possible to write a law such that the person who is appointed is unable to run for the Senate position? It is my understanding that federal law trumps state law when it comes to Senate qualifications, so while we can ask the Governor to appoint someone who doesn’t want to stick with the job, I question the weight of such a request.

    I would suggest a Wyoming model, in which the Governor is told to appoint someone of the same party of the person who filled the seat. People do vote by party, and that at least to the largest degree possible perpetuates the will of the people in voting for the person in the first place. Alternatively, why not have the Mass. Legislature appoint someone? Giving a single person, the Governor, the power to appoint someone seems rather prone to problem, however well-intentioned the Governor. If the Legislature had to approve someone it would at least massively broaden the number of people involved and make it nominally more democratic. Is there any reason (other than the practical one of getting the legislature to agree on someone in a timely fashion) to keep the legislature out of the process?

  30. Dear Will,

    This is an emotional time for all of us in Massachusetts. We are about to lose our beloved Senator Kennedy who has done so much for us, and of course we are reminded of all of the service the Kennedy family has contributed to our country.

    However, this is not the time to change a law that Senator Kennedy himself supported only a few years ago. If the law is to be changed, it should be changed at a calmer time, not in the heat of the battle. We have to show some leadership on ethics and the longer term picture, take the high road even if it hurts in the short term, because to do otherwise reduces the credibility of our leaders. We need moral leadership that goes beyond the self-serving temporary issues of the day.

    I believe most of us know what the RIGHT thing to do is, which is to not succumb to the emotional issue of the day.

    With all of the usual delays in Congress, it would seem that any vote of extraordinary significance could be delayed until a new Senator is elected. If he were truly able to put Massachusetts first, Senator Kennedy could resign and allow the process to begin immediately to find a successor.

    If a vote were to come up at a future date, the provision that the appointee will not seek office in the special election should be written in stone, and not relied upon as a “personal commitment”. I also suggest a summary of how other states deal with the situation and put that information out for the public to digest. There are good reasons to enact such a law, but with stringent guidelines and perhaps taken to the table when there is not a current situation in question.

    I am a long term supporter of Senator Kennedy, but with all due respect, may I say that I have had personal experience of loved ones who have had brain diseases, and it often unfortunately can affect judgment. This is not an easy thing to say. I am not a physician and have no information on his current state, however, this can be one of the side effects of brain cancer. I suspect this may have something to do with the rashness of the Senator’s proposal, because he has in the past seem conducted his legislative work with a great concern for ethics.

    Thank you for asking us to think about this and allowing us to be heard.

    Cynthia Tollen

  31. Here is my take in a letter (likely unpublished)to the Globe yesterday:

    I must take issue with your editorial advocating that the legislature accede to Senator Kennedy’s request to allow the Governor to appoint an interim Senator until the special election has taken place if Senator Kennedy should retire (Don’t let senate seat be vacant, Boston Globe, August 21, 2009).

    In itself, it may not be a bad idea, but legislative changes of this type (including the original bill that stripped the Governor of the right to appoint a replacement) should only come into force after the next election cycle. That is, present incumbents cannot be allowed to benefit from these changes.

    Too often in America, politicians (e.g. Bloomberg in New York, Democrats in New Jersey, Republicans in Texas) change the rules in mid stream so that they can benefit. This should not be acceptable.

    Maybe we could get an independent redistricting commission too.

    Martin G. Evans
    Professor Emeritus, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

    48 Griswold Street
    MA 02138


  32. Will,

    I think we need elected rather than appointed senators. Could Sen. Kennedy announce that he will resign in 160 days, serving as many of those days as possible? This would minimize the interregnum, avoid an interim appointee, and not require a major change in the law.

    Also, I don’t want to be preachy, but I do find some of the posts to this thread snide, full of innuendo that raises the heat without shedding light. If I had one vote to cast, it would be for civil debate rather than ranting.

  33. The law was poorly crafted when it was put together. A Senator should be elected if he/she has to resign and the five months would certainly give enough time to campaign. However, in the interim, Massachusetts ought to have two Senators. Having an appointee who can not run for the office is a good way to deal with the problem. It is horrible that the issue should arise because Senator Kennedy is so seriously ill, but that does not mean that the solution that he has proposed is a poor one.

    1. How many Roll Calls has Ted Kennedy missed this year? The answer will tell you that Massachusetts has basically been without representation throughout the Senator’s illness. Another 5.5 months will not harm Massachusetts irreparably.

      I tend to believe that those in favor care only about the impact of this switch on the Healthcare Reform vote and have no problem with bully politics. I do have a news flash. The Democrats control both Houses and the White House. Delay the Bill long enough for the Senator to step down and be replaced rightly without taint of an appointee by the voters of Massachusetts. We could have a new Senator sworn in no later than February and imagine all the $$ that the present Dem Congressman will spend running for the seat… It will stimulate the economy right here in Massachusetts. I suspect the Kennedy clan still has the $ and influence to twist arms and get Vicky or whatever Kennedy they are grooming appointed. Unfortunately we should know soon because the Senator missing his sisters funeral is not a good sign for his health.

  34. Will,

    “Government of laws, not of men,” is what the US preaches around the world and I think it’s what we ought to practice. Furthermore in the long run, Senator Kennedy’s reputation will shine more brightly if his last recorded act is not an attempt to “gift” the Senator’s position – to a family member.

    1. Gov appoints replacement but not MA legistor before coming elections–
      Proposal: Give the governor the power to appoint a replacement for the seat of any Congressman or Senator who leaves office. However, before the coming Massachusetts election, do not allow any Massachusetts elected official to be chosen. In that way, no one could say that a Massachusetts legislator was acting in self interest in voting for the bill.

    2. If this poorly crafted law is changed so as to provide that the person taking the interim appointment can NOT run for the office, then there is no way the seat can be given as a gift. Moreover, Massachusetts will not be without full representation for five months. We’ve all seen what that did to Minnesota.

  35. On the whole, I think that Senator Kennedy’s proposal is a reasonable one. As you note, Will, there will be an election within the time frame specified in the current law, and Massachusetts will not lose its representation in the short-run. I have faith that there are many competent people who would make themselves available to fill a caretaker position.

    On a related note, I am disturbed by the outpouring of cynicism in response to this proposal.

  36. I have not followed the entire discussion about the appointment of a place holder for Senator Kennedy. To be brief, I am very much in favor of such a move due to Kennedy?s extraordinary longevity in the Senate and the brief period the replacement would serve. Further, the American people recently voted for the kind of change that Senator Kennedy and, in all probability, his temporary replacement represent. All of these things together create an
    exceptional circumstance under which Senator Kennedy?s request should be honored. This convergence will not occur for very many senators. I have not had time to read all of the entries so these current ideas emerge from my basic knowledge.

    Many regards,
    Alice Trexler

  37. I agree this appears to be a reasonable proposal to 1. maintain the existing process to insure the people vote to elect a new senator on the same scheudule ( leaving time for campaign) and 2. enhance current process to insure the people of Massachusetts are fully represented in the US senate. I have no knowledge of past decsions, but frankly believe we need to be represented fully and with as little /short a break in that representation as possible – not just now ( as many refer to health care and Kennedy’s causes) but next year and in 10 years and thereafter. As the new media accelerate the speed of information, discussion, and decision making – it is more important now and going forward to be present and respresented – 5 months in 1950 is just not the same as 5 months in 2009 nor will it be in 2025.

    Will, I appreaciate your approach and know you will make a well informed, deliberate decsion. Thank you.

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