Friday, November 07, 2008

An opening in Massachusetts?

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Something rare may soon be found in Massachusetts. An open Senate seat:

US Senator John F. Kerry's widely reported place on Barack Obama's short list for secretary of state raises the possibility of dramatic changes in the Massachusetts political landscape, just days after Kerry won easy election to a fifth term.

Kerry's leap to a federal Cabinet post would spur what strategists and even potential candidates are already describing as a mad scramble among a dozen or more Massachusetts political figures over a tantalizing opportunity, a rare open seat in Washington's most exclusive club.

"These Senate seats come up once in a lifetime," said Dan Payne, a Democratic media consultant who has worked for Kerry's campaigns. "Anybody who has ever thought they wanted to be a senator will assemble the kitchen cabinet and take a good, careful look at it."

A special election to fill an open US Senate seat would probably attract a huge crowd, from Attorney General Martha Coakley and Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill to US representatives including Michael E. Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch, and the dean of the delegation, Edward J. Markey.
In fact, there has not been an open Senate seat in Massachusetts since 1984, and the result has been considerable pent-up political ambition that strategists believe will be unleashed in any sort of campaign.
Unlike most states that allow the governor to appoint a replacement, Massachusetts law says that a vacant US Senate seat would have to be filled by a special election within 140 to 160 days of the resignation. The Democrat-controlled Legislature approved the law when Kerry was running for president in 2004, to prevent Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, from appointing a possible successor. - Boston Globe