As Massachusetts lawmakers mourn the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) they also are preparing for a battle about his replacement. Namely, how that person will be selected and who that person will be. The how is the more pressing matter right now, according to state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei (R).
Current state law calls for a special election in the event of a Senate vacancy, but some Democrats are pushing for the law to be changed to allow Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to appoint the next senator. Bay State residents “don’t want to see election laws changed to benefit one person or party … it erodes people’s confidence,” according to Tisei.
The state Republican Party also hopes the current law stays in place, as Patrick would almost certainly appoint a Democrat. “I think it’s wrong for Democrats to change the law for purely self-serving purposes,” state Republican Party communications director Tarah Donoghue said. She added that Patrick has a “long history of making poor decisions in political patronage” in making his appointments.
In the event the law doesn’t change, a special election would be held. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin on Thursday presented state lawmakers with a proposed election calendar, The Boston Globe reported. The calendar was drafted after Galvin met with state House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D), state Senate President Therese Murray (D), and top Patrick aides. Under his proposed scheduled, the special election would take place either Jan. 19, with a Dec. 8 primary, or Jan. 26, with a Dec. 15 primary.
According to Galvin, Patrick is legally required to choose one of the two proposed special election dates and then notify local officials by early next week. Under state law, the governor must set the special election process in motion “immediately’’ upon a Senate vacancy, The Globe reported.
Among the names mentioned as possible candidates is former Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan. Sullivan has declined to comment on the possibility of running for the seat, although he did release a statement regarding Kennedy’s passing.
While the state GOP believes it is “too early” to endorse a candidate, according to Donoghue, the state House has scheduled a caucus for Monday to discuss possible candidates, according to state House Assistant Minority Leader George Peterson (R). If former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey decides to run, she “would be very formidable,” as she would be able to self-finance her campaign, according to Tisei.