Kirk Tapped as Interim Massachusetts Senator

Posted September 24, 2009 at 8:32am

Updated: 11:27 a.m.Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) told reporters as a news conference Thursday morning that he will appoint former Democratic National Committee Chairman Paul Kirk to temporarily fill the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) seat. “I am pleased to appoint Paul Kirk as the interim United States Senator from Massachusetts,— Patrick said. A longtime Kennedy confidant and friend of the family, Kirk’s appointment was boosted by the support of the late Senator’s widow and two sons. “During our years together, I was personally privileged to have Sen. Kennedy’s friendship, his trust and his confidence,— Kirk told reporters, adding that he hoped to retain all of Kennedy’s staff during his short tenure in office. The bill that would allow Patrick to make the appointment hit a procedural snag on Wednesday. The law will not take effect for 90 days, which means Patrick could not appoint Kirk until mid-December — about one month before the Jan. 19 special election.Patrick told reporters that he intended to resolve this, and he had sent a letter to the secretary of state asking for the law to take effect immediately. “I signed that legislation this morning and I sent a letter to the secretary of state giving it immediate effect,— Patrick said. At the news conference, Kirk said that he expected to be sworn into office on Friday. However, one senior Senate Democratic aide said Thursday morning that it was unlikely that Kirk could be sworn in before Tuesday. Once the Senate receives the official paperwork from Patrick, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will need to set a time for the swearing-in, but the timing could depend on the availability of Vice President Joseph Biden, who as President of the Senate traditionally presides over such ceremonies.Emily Pierce contributed to this report.