Ted Kennedy's friend Paul Kirk now favorite for Senate seat

Kirk has received the endorsement of widow Victoria Kennedy and sons Patrick and Edward Jr. He is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

By , Contributor

Paul Kirk now appears to be the front-runner to take the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat until a special election is held in January.

Senator Kennedy’s sons and his widow have endorsed Mr. Kirk, a long-time Kennedy friend and the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Both Edward Kennedy Jr. and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D) of Rhode Island have contacted Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick – who will make the appointment – to express their support for Kirk, according to the Associated Press. Kennedy’s widow, Victoria, is also reported to be in favor of Kirk, who is currently chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library.

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The news represents a shift from Tuesday, when Gov. Michael Dukakis seemed to be a shoo-in, even earning the endorsement of the Boston Globe.

Regardless of which way Governor Patrick is leaning, however, procedural hurdles remain.

Both the Massachusetts House and Senate have now passed a bill to change to the state’s election laws. The bill grants the governor the ability to appoint a temporary replacement to occupy Kennedy’s seat until the state can hold a special election in January.

But Massachusetts law dictates that a bill does not become law until 90 days after the governor signs it.

The state would need to suspend this regulation so Patrick’s appointment can arrive in Washington in time to impact the US Senate’s fall calendar. To do this, the law will have to be deemed an emergency measure.

But in Wednesday’s House vote, the bill’s proponents failed to get the necessary two-thirds margin to approve emergency status.

This means Patrick will have to sign a letter declaring it an emergency, says state Senate President Therese Murray. The governor’s aides declined to say whether Patrick had drafted such a letter, the Associated Press reports.

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