NPR logo Mass. Ready To Change Succession Law; Senator Dukakis?

Mass. Ready To Change Succession Law; Senator Dukakis?

The Massachusetts state Senate is expected to begin debate at 11 a.m. ET today on a bill that would change state law ... and give Gov. Deval Patrick (D) the power to make an interim appointment to fill the vacancy in the U.S. Senate created by the Aug. 25 death of Edward Kennedy. That person would serve until the Jan. 19 special election.

Last week the state House voted 95-58 to approve the bill. The Senate vote is expected to be closer, even though Republicans are badly outnumbered in both chambers; there is some squeamishness in the Dem camp over charges of hypocrisy, given the fact that they took the power of Senate appointment away from the governor in 2004, when Sen. John Kerry (D) was running for president and a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, could have named a GOP successor. But that was then, and this is now.

Republicans have used parliamentary tactics to twice postpone the debate in the Senate, on Friday and again yesterday. They have indicated they will let allow debate today.

Assuming the Senate passes the measure, Patrick is expected to sign it tomorrow.

And he could name a Senate successor shortly after that. Names on the list are thought to include former Gov. Michael Dukakis, ex-DNC chair Paul Kirk (who is a former Kennedy aide), Harvard Law School professor Charle Ogletree, and ex-Lt. Gov. Evelyn Murphy. Massachusetts has never had a female senator.