In 2004, Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts was running for President against George W. Bush's re-election bid, and Republican Mitt Romney was Governor of the state. The state legislature sensing that if Sen. Kerry won the election Gov. Romney might appoint a - gasp -Republican to fill the seat, passed a law to provide that such vacancies would remain unfilled until a special election could be held in safely Democratic Massachusetts.
Because of a law Massachusetts lawmakers passed when Senator John F. Kerry ran for president in 2004, when they sought to blunt the effect of a possible Senate appointment by then-Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, there is no appointment process to replace a vacancy in a US Senate seat. Instead, like only two other states, Oregon and Wisconsin, a special election would be held within several months to fill a seat.
Now, though, the shoe being on the other foot, there is movement to rescind the law, pushed by the ailing Sen. Kennedy* himself. The Boston Globe, predictably, portrays this as a selfless act.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at 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 when his seat becomes vacant.
In a personal, sometimes wistful letter sent Tuesday to Governor Deval L. Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Kennedy asks that Patrick be given authority to appoint someone to the seat temporarily before voters choose a new senator in a special election.
Although Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, does not specifically mention his illness or the health care debate raging in Washington, the implication of his letter is clear: He is trying to make sure that the leading cause in his life, better health coverage for all, advances in the event of his death.
Then, when Gov. Patrick loses to the Republican challenger in 2010 (his approval rating in May was 28%) we can play more games with the process and revert to the 2004 law. I suggest a simpler solution - a new law.
"Given that Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, and given further that the staunchly Democratic Kennedy family is a Massachusetts treasure, no Republican shall be allowed to hold a federal elected position representing the people of the Commonwealth."
*I have no ill will towards the Senator personally as he and his family deal with his illness, though I disagree with him strongly on health care, and further think that his career should not have survived his past. His illness does not change the hypocrisy demonstrated here.
8/20/09 1240: More from Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.
However, actions by a state legislature and demands by partisan hacks to keep going back and forth depending on the party registration of the Governor makes a mockery of the rule of law and underscores the fact that machine politics runs Massachusetts.
Hence my suggested new law.
BTW, welcome Ace Of Spades readers. Thanks, Drew.