MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2014 - This Day In History
Former DNC Chairman Paul Kirk is Newest Senator
Posted By jwilkes - Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 1:52 PM
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Former top aide to Ted Kennedy and a one-time chairman of the Democratic National Committee Paul Kirk has been named by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to serve as the interim replacement for Kennedy in Massachusetts' Senate delegation, following the death of Senator Kennedy on August 25th.

Kirk served as a special assistant to Kennedy from 1969 to 1977.  In 1983, he was elected treasurer of the DNC, and became chairman of the organization in 1985.  His stewardship of the national party saw Democrats retake control of the Senate in the 1986 midterm elections, following six years of Repulican majority.  He left his DNC post in 1988 following the defeat of Michael Dukakis in a presidential election that saw George H.W. Bush win in a landslide.

Kirk's election to the top job at the DNC was marked by some controversy.  Kirk, a Massachusetts native and unabashed liberal (not unlike Kennedy), roused concern in several southern Democrats, including Senator Chuck Robb of Virginia and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.  They went on to form the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, which would later be chaired in the early 1990s by then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.

The appointment of Kirk was largely expected over the past few days, though early speculation indicated that former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was a front-runner for the position.

Kirk's appointment follows a legislative change for Massachusetts. In the final weeks of his life, Senator Kennedy- fearing that his death might deprive Democrats of an imperative vote in the health care reform fight- wrote a letter to Governor Patrick and the leaders of both chambers of the state legislature to urge them to pass a law that would allow the sitting governor- in the event of a vacancy- to appoint an interim Senator rather than allowing the seat to remain vacant until a special election could be held.  That interim replacement would be barred from running in the special election.

The proposal was met with lukewarm support initially, primarily because it was seen by many to directly refute the purpose of a previous bill passed in 2004- when it was possible that the election of Massachusetts' other Senator, John Kerry, might give then-Republican Governor Mitt Romney the ability to choose a fellow GOPer to fill the seat.  The legislature overwhelmingly passed the bill, claiming that it was more democratic for direct election than to simply permit a Governor to choose a new Senator with whom the state would be stuck for up to two years.

Kennedy argued that this change didn't violate the spirit of the 2004 legislation, but rather that it simply added to it.  The electorate still chooses its permanent Senator, but avoids a period of under-representation during the spell between the vacancy and the special election.

The Massachusetts state House of Representatives passed the bill last Thursday, and the Senate completed its own bill earlier this week, with Governor Patrick promptly signing the bill into law.

Kirk provides a perfect outlet for national Democrats.  With no long-term political career plans of his own, Senator-designate Kirk will likely vote the same way Kennedy would have if he were still on the floor today.



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Discussion:
[-] worst abuse of process - Guest-JerryE
since Bush Vs Gore!!!!
[ Posted at 3:41 PM on 9/24/09 | Reply ]
[-] No. - Guest-SockPuppet
The entire term of 2000-2006, when the Repubs had the majority in the House and Senate was the worst abuse of process since Bush v Gore. They did nothing but usurp our democratic processes. To rubber-stamp the BushCo admin's Constitutional violations. Duh.

(Reminder: why didn't the Rethugs pass any of their (concern-troll) "health care reforms" when they had the control of the Congress and the Executive for 6-8 years? How izzit that no one on the (wingnut) Right spoke up ever about the billions and billions of tax payer dollars being pour into the Iraq occupation, with no accounting oversight whatsoever? And yet now all the 'baggers are shrieking about "too much gov'ment spending! Where the hell were all of you yahoos back when we needed to to march on the White House then and shriek and make all this noise against "Big Gov'ment spending"??
Hypocrites. The lot of ya.)
[ Posted at 4:16 PM on 9/24/09 | Reply ]
[-] yes - Guest-JerryE398
this whole thing with changing the laws and just doing anything is crazy
[ Posted at 12:13 AM on 9/25/09 | Reply ]
[-] And the MA GOP - Guest-jsfox
has filed a injunction to try and stop it from happening.

jsfox Website Link
[ Posted at 3:42 PM on 9/24/09 | Reply ]
could progressives want in a Senator?
[ Posted at 3:44 PM on 9/24/09 | Reply ]
Is in marked contrast with Paterson's dithering. (Or, for that matter, Blago's attempts to sell the seat on the pork belly futures market at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.)
[ Posted at 4:23 PM on 9/24/09 | Reply ]

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