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Governor Hopes to Name Interim Senator

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Under Massachusetts law, Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D) must call a special election 145 to 160 days after a U.S. Senate seat is officially declared vacant.

The question is whether legislators will act upon one of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's last public wishes: that they change state law to allow the governor to appoint a temporary successor for that five-month period.

Patrick voiced support Wednesday for such a change, telling the radio station WBUR that the idea is "entirely reasonable" and that he would urge the legislature to pass such a bill, which he would sign.

Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, both Democrats, have not said whether they back the change.

Until 2004, such a vacancy would have been filled by gubernatorial appointment. But Democratic legislators changed the rules that year, fearful that a victory by Sen. John F. Kerry (D) in the presidential race would give then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) the ability to appoint a GOP successor.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services

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