NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 29, 2013

U.S. Senate election slated for June 25

John Kerry expected to announce resignation today

By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

---- — BOSTON — The special election to fill John Kerry’s seat in the U.S. Senate will be in late June, after most schools have let out for the summer and vacation season begins to heat up, Secretary of State William Galvin said yesterday. Gov. Deval Patrick plans to appoint an interim senator tomorrow.

Anticipating that Kerry will resign today after the full Senate confirms his nomination to become secretary of state, Patrick has chosen June 25 as the date for the special election to fill the remainder of his term through 2014, Galvin said, adding that he anticipates Democratic and Republican primaries will be held April 30.

Galvin said he was told by the secretary of the United States Senate that Kerry plans to submit his resignation, effective on Friday, triggering the state law governing Senate vacancies.

State law mandates that the special election be held within 145 to 160 days of a vacancy, created by the submission of a resignation or death. The late June date settled on by Patrick is one of the earliest he could have picked, coming 147 days from Tuesday and falling just before the July 4 holiday.

After interviewing Kerry during a confirmation hearing last week, the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled a vote for today to refer Kerry’s nomination to the full Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated the Senate will follow up with a confirmation vote the same day.

If that schedule holds, Patrick told reporters that he will announce his selection to fill Kerry’s seat on an interim basis tomorrow. Asked whether he had made a final decision, Patrick said, “Pretty much. I have one or two other questions to ask. We’ll be ready.”

The governor has kept his internal list of candidates confidential, with the exception of former Congressman Barney Frank who has publicly talked about wanting the appointment and talking to the governor about it.

Asked if the public would be surprised by the pick, Patrick yesterday said, “I told you we’re going to have someone that I am convinced will be a wise steward of the interest of the people of the Commonwealth while we wait for the people to elect a senator in a special election. And I continue to believe that the main event is the special election.”

Galvin said he had originally recommended that the special election be held on June 18 because school buildings often used as polling locations in municipalities would still be open. Patrick, however, didn’t think it was appropriate to tweak the current law to hold an election earlier than 145 days, according to Galvin.

Galvin said he would have preferred an earlier date to hold voter interest, but said the law and the timing of the U.S. Senate’s consideration of Kerry’s nomination prevented that. He said he supports Patrick’s decision.

President Obama nominated Kerry Dec. 21; and while his confirmation has never seemed in doubt, the process has taken more than a month. Galvin said Kerry ideally could have been confirmed in December or early January, but said the Senate wanted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify about the consulate attack in Benghazi before she resigned, and illnesses delayed her appearance before Congress.

If Patrick signs the order setting the election date by tomorrow, Galvin said he is prepared to immediately release nomination papers, giving candidates four weeks to collect the 10,000 signatures required to have their names included on the ballot. He has also filed legislation to allow cities and towns with municipal elections scheduled this spring to circumvent local bylaws and match up their local elections with the Senate primary.

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey is so far the only candidate from either party to formally declare his intention to run for Kerry’s seat, though U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch is also weighing a campaign, and could announce before the end of the week whether he wants to challenge Markey for the nomination.

Other Democrats, such as U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano and state Sen. Benjamin Downing, considered running, but decided it against it as the Democratic establishment began to coalesce behind Markey.

On the Republican side, former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown has been quiet about his intentions, and most in the party are waiting to see what he does before potentially entering race.