As almost everyone in the U.S. knows by now, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) was hospitalized over the last weekend and has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Understandably, this situation and every angle to the story has been the subject of media scrutiny. It is a horrible situation that you never want to see happen to anyone – let alone someone who has worked for the public for so long. One thing that irritated me a tad was all the talk on the day his diagnosis was made public, of the plans for his succession in the Senate. (I happened to see that on the ABC affiliate in Boston.) The family hadn’t released any information about his plans for the near or long-term and the media was discussing rules for his succession should he have to vacate his office. Clearly, it could be an issue – but it wasn’t an issue yet.
Then the real potential succession issue became very clear. In 2004, when Mitt Romney was the Republican governor of Massachusetts and Senator John Kerry (D- MA) was running for President, the Massachusetts legislature changed the over 100 year-old rule that allows the sitting governor to appoint a replacement for a Senator who leaves office before his or her term expires. Heaven forbid that Mitt Romney have the authority to appoint a replacement to the U.S. Senate for Massachusetts. They claimed a Senate vacancy was alright as long as they could arrange for a special election between 145 and 160 days after the incumbent declares his or her intention to resign. That’s 4-6 months without representation for the state if the incumbent has a sudden death. So the summer before the 2004 Presidential election, the Massachusetts legislature made sure that the sitting Republican governor couldn’t possibly appoint a replacement for Senator Kerry if he won the election. Done. They changed the old law. They were happy.
Now that there’s a Democrat in the Governor’s office, they want to change that rule back. Say what?? For them, it’s OK for a Democrat governor to appoint a replacement. All of the arguments about reaffirming the “power of the people” and cries for special elections from the State Senate President and others in 2004 have seemed to just disappear? In four years?
This makes me ill. Total political bullshit. I am not a registered member of either party. I am just a tax-paying registered voter and I am so sick of the legislature of this state ignoring the voters when it suits them. (Remember when the MA voters voted to roll-back the state income tax? What ever happened to that?) Now it looks like they change the rules when it suits them as well. The Massachusetts voters put these people in their positions – so really, it’s their fault.
I laughed when I saw this video blog post by VB Goudie of our local Fox station on the same matter where he asks, “They can’t be that stupid, can they?” My answer is a resounding, “They most certainly are!”
[As an aside – I have to feel for Mitt Romney as the legislature battled him constantly during his time as governor here. After his departure, certain officials he had tried and failed to replace were replaced. Voila! His administration really tried to make good changes and the old guard fought them at every turn. So far, the only obvious things that the new governor has done in office are redecorate his office, upgrade the cars in which he travels, inappropriately call Robert Rubin on behalf of Ameriquest and ink a $1.35 million book deal (in NYC while missing a key vote in MA on casinos) which will include a book tour during his current (and first) term in office.]