Ex-Colleagues Promote Senator’s Widow as Possible Successor
With Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) now buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the topic of his succession in the Senate came up on several Sunday morning talk shows.Just a week before his death Tuesday of brain cancer, Kennedy had written to Massachusetts leaders, asking them to change the state’s succession law for Senate vacancies. Currently, an empty Senate seat is supposed to be filled in a special election, which under current state law would not occur until mid-January.But Kennedy urged state leaders to allow for at least an interim appointment, ensuring that the state is not underrepresented during critical legislative action.On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, two of Kennedy’s closest friends, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), discussed the possibility of Kennedy’s widow, Vicki, succeeding him in the Senate.”I think Vicki ought to be considered,” Hatch said. “She’s a very brilliant lawyer. She’s a very solid individual. She certainly made a difference in Ted’s life, let me tell you. And I have nothing but great respect for her.”Dodd said that Vicki Kennedy has “expressed to me her own sort of reluctance to do that, but she could change her mind. If she did, I’m for it. I think she’d be great … She brings talent and ability to it, and to fill that spot I think is something the people of Massachusetts would welcome. We could certainly use her in the Senate. But I leave that up to her.”Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether Ted Kennedy would have wanted another Kennedy in his seat — his nephew, former Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) is also mentioned as a possible successor — Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) replied: “Sure.”But he was quick to say that Kennedy’s call for new succession rules were more about protecting his legislative agenda than on keeping the Senate seat in the family.”He wanted the vote protected during this critical moment and only for that moment,” Kerry said. “It wouldn’t upset the process for having an election.”Kerry, who will become Massachusetts’ senior Senator after two dozen years as Kennedy’s junior partner, said it was absolutely proper to leave the decision for anointing Kennedy’s long-term successor in the hands of the state’s voters.In addition to Vicki Kennedy and former Congressman Kennedy as possible successors, state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) has expressed interest in running for Senate whenever there is a vacancy, and several Members of the Bay State’s all-Democratic House delegation are also seen as possible candidates in a special election.The Massachusetts Legislature is expected to consider whether to revamp the state’s succession laws when it returns to work after Labor Day.Emily Yehle contributed to this report.