Lawmakers Push to Fill Kennedy's Senate Seat

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Lawmakers are now focusing on how to replace Sen.Ted Kennedy's seat in the U.S. Senate.
    
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick weighed in on the issue Monday and the legislature appears poised to change the law to keep a body in Kennedy's seat.

Days before his passing, Kennedy sent a letter to state leaders asking them to change Massachusetts law.
         
With key votes on important legislation like health care and cap and trade expected before the end of the year, he wanted to make sure Democrats were not left scrambling to find votes.                              
         
Monday, Gov. Patrick signaled he is pushing to honor Kennedy's wish.
 
"Without the modest change that Senator Kennedy himself proposed Massachusetts will not be fully represented in the United States Senate," Patrick said.

The governor set a special election for January 19, 2010.
         
That is in keeping with the current law that requires a five month waiting period after a vacancy in the Senate.
         
The governor said it is only fair for the people of Massachusetts to have full representation on Capitol Hill.

"My job, right now, is to think about the best interests of the Commonwealth and I think that having a full compliment, two voices in the United States Senate is about the best interests of the Commonwealth," Patrick said. "We have a stake in this health care debate."

Pushed by Kennedy, Massachusetts lawmakers changed the law to what it is today in 2004. It was to keep then Republican Gov. Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican to the Senate if Sen. John Kerry had won the presidency.

It's unlikely lawmakers will have problems changing the law again since the legislature is dominated by a 90 percent Democratic majority.

"When you start mucking around with election laws and start changing laws to benefit different individuals and different political parties, there's a lot  of unintended consequences that end up happening as a result," said Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei.

The legislature has scheduled a public hearing on the issue for Sept. 9.

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