The Case against Senator Kirk (D-MA)

Posted: Sep 25, 2009 7:45 AM
It was only a few days ago that many people believed that former Governor Michael Dukakis would serve as Senator Ted Kennedy's replacement in the Senate for the next few months until the upcoming special election is held. Yesterday, however, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick made his choice known and appointed Paul Kirk to the position.

A lot of Kirk's momentum seemed to come from his supporters in high places. Many of the family members of the late Senator Ted Kennedy had been advocating for Patrick to choose Mr. Kirk. As the Boston Globe reported earlier this week, several of the Kennedys had made their support for Kirk known including the widow of the man Kirk could replace, who was once considered a contender for the seat hersef. recently featured an article about Kirk’s connection to the Kennedys and his own political background. The article noted that Kirk was the former chairman of the DNC who also "served as a special assistant to the senator from 1969 to 1977 and worked on his ill-fated 1980 presidential campaign." That article later noted that "Kirk has never held public office."
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Although both Kirk and Dukakis are liberals and both are known in Democratic circles, it seems like Dukakis would have been a much safer and more respectable choice than Kirk. With the appointment of a Senator Dukakis, Patrick could have argued that Dukakis is a well-known figure in Massachusetts politics who was elected by the voters in the Commonwealth several times. Patrick can not make that argument about a man who has never been elected to public office.

Because of that, Kirk's appointment may be seen as a blatantly political move. Considering that the whole appointment process was also seen as political (remember that the Democrats recently changed the law after changing it only five years ago to prevent a possible Romney appointee from being named to the Senate), this selection may not bode well for Governor Patrick, who is up for reelection next year. 

The appointment of Kirk seems like an appointment made for the benefit of the Kennedys over the people of Massachusetts. Dukakis was an elected leader in that state years ago. Kirk had the support of some members of the Kennedy family.

In the battle between the two contenders,the friend of the Kennedys emerged as Patrick's pick and barring any last-minute changes, tomorrow he could become the next Senator from Massachusetts. That may please the Kennedys but it might not please the voters of that state who could use their power at the voting booth to push Governor Patrick out of office next fall.

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