Well, it looks like the fine people of Massachusetts — through their duly elected representatives — have found an answer to the conundrum of how to replace the late Senator Kennedy (D-Chivas). They found themselves on the horns of a dilemma: should the governor appoint the successor, or should there be a special election?
In typical Massachusetts fashion, they settled on both.
The current bill, expected to be signed by Governor Patrick, gives the governor the power to appoint someone to the Senate — until the special election in January. And while they couldn’t codify the “seat-warmer” provision, both Houses and the Governor said that they would extract pledges from the appointee to not run in the election.
On the surface, a fine, elegant solution. Both concerns are addressed — that Massachusetts not be deprived of a voice in the Senate, and that the people get to choose their representative.
On the practical side, though, it’s typical Massachusetts logic: damn the expenses, full speed ahead!
The appointee (right now it seems a tossup between former governor and loser presidential nominee Michael Dukakis and Kennedy crony Paul Kirk) will take office with a guaranteed expiration date, the remnants of Ted Kennedy’s staff, and a charge to vote the Democratic party line until January — at which point they will be given the proverbial gold watch and a boot in the ass out the door. Forget “lame duck” — Senator X will be, politically, “dead man walking.”
Of course, there will still be all the expenses of being a Senator, picked up by the taxpayers. Stationery, the re-lettering of the office door, various and sundry other costs — most of which will reoccur after the election in January.
The main upshoot of this will not be seen for some time. Should a Republican reclaim the governor’s office in Massachusetts, I feel very comfortable predicting that the law will be rescinded and the current special election provisions will be brought back. On the other hand, should the Democrats keep the office, then the election will go away as “unnecessary and expensive, depriving the people of Massachusetts of representation” will once again be the winning argument.
It all depends on which better benefits the Massachusetts Democratic party, of course.