Kerry's Temporary Senate Replacement Doesn't Plan To Run For The Seat

William "Mo" Cowan was named today as interim U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Cowan replaces John Kerry, who resigned his Senate seat after he was confirmed Tuesday as Secretary of State. Cowan will serve until a new senator is elected in June to fill out the remainder of Kerry's term.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Today, many in Massachusetts are asking themselves, who is Mo Cowan? That's because he'll soon be the state's newest senator. William "Mo" Cowan is former chief of staff to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who chose him to take the seat being vacated by Senator John Kerry, the incoming secretary of state.

As NPR's Tovia Smith reports, Cowan will serve on an interim basis until a special election in June.

TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: After spending years as legal counsel and top advisor to Governor Patrick, Mo Cowan was on his way out to the private sector, but he's now delaying that for six months for what he calls this privilege.

SENATOR WILLIAM 'MO' COWAN: Listen, Massachusetts has been a land of opportunity for me. There is no greater calling than to be able to give back to a state that's given so much to me.

SMITH: Raised in a small town in North Carolina, Cowan moved to Boston for law school and worked in a big downtown law firm before the statehouse. He'll now become the second African-American senator from Massachusetts, a point he says means a lot to him and his mother.

COWAN: She is a child of the segregated South. A single mother to my sisters and me, after my father died when I was a teenager. A woman who did not have the opportunity to attend college, but my mother told me days like today were possible.

SMITH: Cowan is described as extremely competent, cool under pressure, and just plain cool in his trademark bow-tie.

In choosing Cowan, Governor Patrick passed over some bigger names who would have wielded more immediate influence. Most notably perhaps, recently retired Congressman Barney Frank. But Patrick says he's not concerned that Massachusetts will go from two veteran senators just a few years ago, to two freshmen first-time office holders.

GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK: And I do get that part of clout is seniority. But I'm confident that this is the right and best choice for us.

SMITH: Cowan concedes he faces a learning curve in Washington, but he says he'll be helped along by Kerry's staff. He says don't expect much daylight between where Kerry stood and where he'll stand on issues like health care, education and gun control.

But Cowan says do expect his to be a very short career in elected politics. He's promised the governor he's not running to keep the seat.

Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.