During the time MItt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, Senator John Kerry ran for President and looked at times that he might win. The state legislature, egged on by Kerry’s Senate partner Ted Kennedy, changed the law regarding the selection of a replacement Senator to require a state election, keeping Romney from the possibility of appointing — quelle horreur! — a Republican in Kerry’s place. Now that Ted Kennedy is perhaps too ill to continue, Kennedy now wants the law changed back, since there’s a Democrat in the governor’s chair.
A cancer-stricken Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has written a letter to Massachusetts leaders asking that they change state law to allow a speedy replacement of him in Congress.
The note has been sent to Gov. Deval Patrick and the state’s Senate president and House speaker while Congress considers an overhaul of the nation’s health care system, one of Kennedy’s projects.
The letter acknowledges the state changed its succession law in 2004 to require a special election within five months to fill any vacancy. At the time, legislative Democrats — with a wide majority in both chambers — were concerned because then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney had the power to directly fill any vacancy created as Democratic Sen. John Kerry ran for president.
But Kennedy writes “it is vital for this commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election.”
Well, it is now, since Deval Patrick and not Mitt Romney governs Massachusetts. Now, apparently, the needs of a democratic process can take a back seat to the needs of a, um, Democratic process. Suddenly, Kennedy sees the need to have Massachusetts represented by two Senators immediately after an opening, rather than wait for the will of the people.
If there’s a bigger pile of hypocrisy (outside of Washington DC), someone please be sure to mention it in the comments.
The rule of law prevails because it’s seen by most as a fair, non-partisan measure of public behavior. There are good arguments to be made for both gubernatorial appointment and special elections as processes for filling mid-term vacancies in Congress. However, actions by a state legislature and demands by partisan hacks to keep going back and forth depending on the party registration of the Governor makes a mockery of the rule of law and underscores the fact that machine politics runs Massachusetts. (via JiangxiDad)
Update: John Fund moves the story a bit more:
The Boston Globe now notes Mr. Kennedy’s current request “puts lawmakers in a delicate position.” They “are nervous about being accused of engineering a self-serving change to help their party” just a few years after ramming through a similar self-serving change.
It’s sad to see Senator Kennedy sign on to such an obvious ploy. Under the law he now proposes, he would likely not have become a U.S. Senator in 1962, after his brother became president. At the time, Ted Kennedy was too young to be appointed to JFK’s seat. A faithful Kennedy ally was appointed by the state’s Democratic governor for two years as a stand-in until Ted was old enough to run and win in 1962. Under the changes Mr. Kennedy now wants, a special election would instead have been held in early 1961 — an election he would not have been eligible to run in — and he likely would have faced a formidable incumbent if he chose to run as a novice when the seat next came up in November 1962. In the event, Mr. Kennedy secured the Democratic nomination only after his brother’s operatives convinced most of the state’s prominent Democrats not to run. Even so, young Teddy managed to win only 53% of the vote in the general election in a strong year for Democrats with his own brother in the White House.
Be sure to read it all.