Close Kennedy Aide to Fill Late Senator’s Seat

By Britt

Sep 24, 2009 10:30am

 ABC News' David Chalian and Rachel Martin Report: 

Almost a month to the day after the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts is set to name his replacement. Democratic sources tell ABC News that Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) will name former Kennedy staffer, Paul Kirk as the interim successor to the late Senator Kennedy. Patrick is expected to make the announcement at a press conference in Boston this morning.

Before his death, Senator Kennedy had written a letter to Gov. Patrick, asking him to push through a change in the state law that would allow him to appoint an interim successor who could start work immediately, instead of leaving the seat open until filled in a special election. In accordance with Kennedy's wishes, the Massachusetts legislature altered the succession law, paving the way for a special appointment.

Paul Kirk, 71, served on Edward Kennedy's staff for eight years and went on to chair the Democratic National Committee in the 1980s. Today he is a Boston-based attorney and the chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation's board of directions. Kirk is reportedly the favorite pick of the immediate Kennedy family, including Kennedy's widow Victoria Reggie Kennedy – who was thought early on to be a lead contender to fill her husband's seat.

Kirk will hold the seat until a special election is held January 19th and as part of the appointment, he must refuse to run in that election. Kirk's appointment gives Congressional Democrats a filibuster-proof 60th vote that will help the party and President Obama push through key legislative priorities, like the increasingly controversial health care reform bill.

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