It’s Just Politics

Filed in Local Events, Local News, Politics by on September 14, 2009 0 Comments

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Last week, the Senate opened without its Lion, Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In his honor, they draped his seat in black velvet. This serves as a reminder of the all important question–what will happen to Ted’s seat? It’s fate potentially rests in the hands of the Massachusetts legislature.

In 2004, the Massachusetts legislature changed the law on filling vacancies in the U.S. Senate from Governor appointment to special election. The overwhelmingly Democratic legislature acted in order to prevent then Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, from appointing someone to fill the seat of Senator John Kerry in the instance he was to win the presidency. He would likely name a Republican to the office. They even feared that Romney would resign and have Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey appoint him to the Senate upon her becoming Acting Governor. To further deny Governor Romney the power of appointment, a commonplace executive authority, the legislature refused to allow him the ability to appoint an interim Senator. As a result, all eyes are on the Massachusetts legislature to see what their next move will be.

Shortly before his death, Senator Kennedy sent Governor Deval Patrick a letter requesting the law be changed in order to allow the Governor to make an interim appointment as to not leave a key vacancy in Congress. This has become a dying request in many ways. Although a special election has been scheduled for January, the issue of filling the seat for the few months before this date remains. A major hurdle is that many of the same people who changed the law in 2004 are left to make this decision, reputations potentially on the line.

Plenty of people see the Kennedy dilemma as a slimy scheme by Democrats. However, a similar controversy is brewing in Florida. Early last month, out of the blue Florida Senator Mel Martinez resigned, leaving the Governor to appoint a replacement. A few weeks later, Governor Charlie Crist announced he would name George LeMieux to the seat. So who is George LeMieux? He happens to be a long-time aide to Crist, including former campaign manager and chief of staff. Why would Governor Crist choose to select LeMieux over other Republicans? Simple. He will serve as a placeholder in the Senate in order to allow Crist to run for the seat in November 2010.

To some, Massachusetts may seem like a prime example of the abuse of majority power by Democrats. To others, the situation in Florida may appear to be just another Republican trick. Both views leave out a very important point. It’s just politics.

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Sara Todisco works as a Tour Guide at the Massachusetts State House and is a contributing writer for DirectoryofBoston.com.

Check out her blog at: Notabletimes.com

Photo by: LauraPadgett

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