Replacing Kennedy Tall Task For Reform-Minded Democrats
Conservatives are accusing Democrats of politicizing Kennedy's death to pass health care legislation, Politico reports: "So his allies on the left have made no secret of their hopes that his legacy will serve to bolster the uncertain health reform plan, with Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) even suggesting the bill be named for Kennedy. And that has some influential conservative voices sounding the alarm and calling foul.
While most prominent Republicans stuck Wednesday and Thursday to sober condolences - and several Republican operatives said it was too early to accuse Democrats of politicizing a sad moment - the conservative media, as well as some operatives, have seized on the whiff of politicization of his passing, recalling the bitter charges and countercharges that followed Sen. Paul Wellstone's (D-Minn.) memorial service in 2002" (Smith, 8/27).
The Christian Science Monitor: "By proposing to attach Kennedy's name to the legislative effort, proponents may be hoping to brand it, in a marketing sense, by associating it with a personality recognizable to virtually every American. That might help counter the fact that the sweeping bills in the House and Senate are difficult to summarize to voters, due to their many and far-reaching provisions. But giving the effort a new name would not change its substance, and many Republicans appear unlikely to soften their opposition to healthcare legislation of any form" (Grier, 8/27).
Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius invoked the late Senator's name on Thursday during a visit to a wellness center in Washington, ABC News reports. "'Hopefully, at every step of the way, people will ask themselves: "What would Teddy do?" and move it forward,' (Sebelius said)."
"Sebelius, a co-chair of Kennedy's 1980 presidential campaign in Kansas, is the latest Democrat who is hoping that Kennedy's influence in death may be even stronger than it was when he was alive as Democrats push for President Obama's top domestic priority. Democratic officials hope that invoking Kennedy's passion for the issue will counter slippage in support for health care reform" (Davis, 8/28).
Meanwhile, Democrats are calling for a quick special appointment to fill Edward Kennedy's seat, to have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Reuters: "Massachusetts law would leave the seat open for five months at which time a special election could be held. But, as he was dying, Kennedy asked state lawmakers to allow Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to name a temporary replacement. The drive to name an interim senator faces criticism from state Republicans, who note that Democrats in 2004 changed the law to head off a chance for then-Governor Mitt Romney to name a Republican to succeed Kerry, who was running for president" (Herbst-Bayliss and Smith, 8/28).
The Washington Post: "If the law were changed, it would be part of a grand bargain among the state's top lawmakers. Patrick would be expected to name a caretaker to fill the seat, a political luminary who would pledge not to run in a special election. Speculation has centered on former governor Michael S. Dukakis, former state attorney general Scott Harshbarger and former state treasurer Shannon O'Brien - all Democrats - as potential appointees. Another prospect is Paul G. Kirk Jr., a confidant of the late senator and chairman of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, where Edward Kennedy now lies in repose."
"State House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D) has indicated privately that he now backs the proposal, and Democratic state Senate President Therese Murray's opposition appears to be softening. Both Vicki Kennedy, the senator's widow, and [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid are lobbying state officials to fill the seat quickly" (Pershing and Kane, 8/28).
The Massachusetts Secretary of State, William Galvin, calculated that a special election to help fill Kennedy's seat for four years - the remainder of his term - will likely be held Jan. 19 or 26, 2010, The Boston Globe reports: "Meanwhile, another name emerged yesterday as a possible contender. Republican Kerry Healey, the lieutenant governor under Mitt Romney who lost her gubernatorial bid to Patrick three years ago, is eyeing a run for the seat. Republicans in Washington are aggressively trying to recruit viable candidates, but it remains unclear which local Republicans might run. Potential contenders include state Senator Scott Brown, a Wrentham Republican; former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Andrew Card, the former chief of staff for President George W. Bush; and Christopher Egan, a former ambassador and president of Carruth Capital, a commercial real estate firm" (Phillips and Viser, 8/28).