NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 11, 2009

John Kerry, the former junior Senator from Massachusetts, was back in Boston Wednesday, urging the state legislature to change the law governing U.S. Senate vacancies.  The seat held by Edward Kennedy from 1962 until his death last month is to be filled in a January special election.  Kerry, echoing a letter Kennedy wrote not long before he died, asked lawmakers to enact legislation allowing Governor Deval Patrick to appoint a Senator to serve in the interim.

"What Ted proposed is a plan that is hardly radical," Kerry declared in his prepared testimony.  "It's hardly even unprecedented, even in Massachusetts."  That's for sure, says the Wall Street Journal:

  • The law in the Bay State provided for interim appointment by the Governor as recently as 2004; that, of course, was the year that Kerry won the Democratic nomination for President.
  • Just in case he won, the state legislature changed the law to strip the Governor of this power; that change also came at Senator Kennedy's urging.

What changed in the ensuing five years?  In 2004, the Governor, Mitt Romney, was a Republican.  Patrick is a Democrat. So are the overwhelming number of state lawmakers, who overrode Romney's veto.  Raw partisan advantage explains why Kerry, like his departed colleague, was for the 2004 change before he was against it, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "The Kerry Constancy: Now he favors appointing Senators," Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2009.

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