Saturday, November 24, 2012
Will Deval Patrick appoint our next Massachusetts senator?
That strategy turned out to be premature when Kerry didn't "report for duty" after all.
In 2009, the Democrats were faced with Ted Kennedy's death and wished they hadn't pulled the trigger so soon. As a compromise, the law was again changed to allow for an interim appointment by the governor, though Deval Patrick insisted that the appointee agree not to run for the seat in the special election. A rare, but appreciated, moment of rising above the political fray.
Everything changed, of course, when the Democrat's shoe-in, Martha Coakley, failed to win the special election and Scott Brown took a 5-point win straight to Washington, D.C.
The well-organized Democratic Party ousted Brown this month and normalcy is soon to return to Massachusetts; that is, all Democratic U.S. Senators and Representatives.
Not so fast.
Now we're contemplating Senator Kerry being appointed to President Obama's cabinet, possibly in the role of Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State. If that happens, Governor Patrick will be able to appoint an interim senator. Will he add the stipulation again of the appointee not running for the open seat? Don't count on it. As George Bush once famously said, "Fool me once... Shame on you. You can't be fooled again."
The state Democratic Party leaders would rather see the 2004 mistake reversed by the legislature, putting the appointment of the unexpired term back into the hands of the governor. In fact, if we passed the law with a toggle option, with Democratic governors getting the appointment power and Republican governors not, we'd be heroes.
Once again, not so fast.
Joining the conversation is Senate President Therese Murray, whose spokesman said: "We're not changing it [the current law]." When she conveys something that straight forwardly, count on it.
Governor Patrick will make the interim appointment and allow that person to run in the special election. By necessity, that person will be forced to campaign for the entire 160 days and will have zero time to be our interim senator, but that's an issue for another day.