Special election rules in Massachusetts are the Silly Putty of legislation, taking whatever shape best suits the Democratic majority at the time.
Back in 2004, they eliminated a governor’s power to appoint replacements for U.S. Senate vacancies, the better to keep then-Gov. Mitt Romney’s mitts off John Kerry’s seat should he win the presidency. When one of their own returned to the corner office, state lawmakers gave back the power to appoint a temporary replacement.
Now they apparently want to give Gov. Deval Patrick the power to appoint a permanent replacement to serve out an interrupted term, the Boston Herald’s Hillary Chabot reports:
Power-hungry Bay State Democrats — eyeing another potential Senate opening if U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry joins the Obama Cabinet— are quietly discussing reinstating a 2004 law that would let Gov. Deval Patrick appoint a permanent replacement to help keep the seat under party control until at least 2014.
“I think that would be preferable. It would certainly save the taxpayers money if they don’t have to pay for another election,” said Phil Johnston, former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
“I think people are campaigned out. I think the governor is very popular and most voters would be happy to support his choice until the next general election,” Johnston added.
Not if the voters are David Bernstein, the intrepid political maven at the Phoenix. Here’s what he tweeted earlier today:
If history is any guide, shame will be the least important factor going forward.