When John Kerry ran for president in 2004, Democrats in the Massachusetts legislature saw their Senate seat slipping away: Mitt Romney was governor, and they expected he would appoint a Republican senator. So instead of allowing that, the legislature decided to rewrite the law: rather than letting the governor appoint someone to an open Senate seat, a special election would be held.
But because John Kerry lost the 2004 presidential election, this law was not needed until Senator Ted Kennedy was hospitalized. In 2009, the Massachusetts legislature once again rewrote the law because Deval Patrick, a Democrat, was the governor. This time, Massachusetts law enforced a special election but the governor would have the power to appoint a temporary senator during the time it would take to hold the special election.
With John Kerry’s actual resignation of his Senate seat to become the next Secretary of State a foregone conclusion, Deval Patrick must appoint a placeholder and a special election will be held. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell has already declared the next Massachusetts senator. “It’s settled, Ed Markey is going to be the next elected Senator from Massachusetts.”
But, O’Donnell posed this question:
“Who is the governor going to appoint in the meantime? The appointed senator will have crucial work to do on the next debt ceiling crisis, on the next round of budget negotiations with Republicans. All of that action will be focused in the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over not just the debt ceiling, but Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which Republicans want to put into play. Ideally the appointed Senator would take John Kerry’s seat on the Senate Finance Committee, and ideally the appointed Senator would know exactly how that committee works and how the Senate works on day one… because ideally the appointed Senator would be a former member of the Senate Finance Committee who has real experience negotiating and legislating huge budget bills. But there are none of those living in Massachusetts now or from Massachusetts. But there is a former Chief of Staff of the Senate Finance Committee who’s from Massachusetts…”
By floating his own name for Massachusetts’ Senate appointment, O’Donnell made a convincing argument that he knows a thing or two about governing. But with Barney Frank pushing for the Senate seat, O’Donnell has requested assistance with this “difficult decision.”
On Wednesday night, Lawrence O’Donnell will announce on The Last Word either his intention to beg Governor Patrick for the appointment, or if Barney Frank deserves to become the appointed interim senator.