According to Democratic aides briefed on the decision, the governor of Massachusetts has picked Paul G. Kirk Jr., former Democratic national chairman, to temporarily replace the late Edward M. Kennedy in the U.S. Senate.
The appointment by Gov. Deval Patrick will let Kirk, who was close friends with the senator, serve in the post until voters pick a permanent replacement in a Jan. 19 special election. It also gives President Barack Obama a critical 60th U.S. Senate vote he needs to pass his top legislative priority, a health care overhaul.
Kirk's appointment restores Democrats to 60 seats -- a filibuster proof majority in the Senate although Sen. Robert Byrd's (D-W.Va.) recent hospitalization complicates that math.
“Paul Kirk cares enormously about our state, and that’s why he’s been such a trusted friend to the Kennedy family and to me,’’ Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday. “But this is the governor’s decision now, just as it’s the people's choice in January, and I’m not engaging in the speculation game.’’
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