Treasurer Steve Grossman, who is weighing a gubernatorial bid in 2014, says he opposes any potential changes to the state’s Senate succession law.
The possibility has come up for discussion as President Obama weighs changes to his second-term Cabinet and reportedly considers Senator John F. Kerry for either secretary of state or secretary of defense.
“I’m opposed to it,” Grossman said Monday during an appearance on NECN’s “Broadside with Jim Braude.” “I think it’s wrong. We should leave the rules the way they are. Let the process play out. ...Have a special election. Don’t change the law.”
Under current law, Governor Deval Patrick would appoint a temporary replacement upon Kerry’s resignation. The state would then gear up for a special election to permanently fill the seat. It would have to be held within 145 to 160 days of the vacancy, most likely by the end of June.
The winner would then hold the seat until 2014, when Kerry’s term would have expired and the seat will be up for its normal six-year election cycle.
Senator Scott Brown, a Republican currently serving as the state’s junior senator, has indicated he may run, after having lost reelection earlier this month to Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
Patrick said recently he would like to have the power to fill the seat unilaterally until the next regularly scheduled election, as is done in many states, but he has also said again on Monday that he doesn’t feel there is “any appetite” locally for any such legislative change.
The governor had that authority until 2004, when Patrick’s fellow Democrats in the Legislature decided to change state law so that then-Governor Mitt Romney wouldn’t be able to appoint a successor if Kerry - at that time the party’s presidential nominee - won the White House.
Over the veto of Romney, a Republican, the Democratically controlled House and Senate voted to create the special election process.
And after Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy died in 2009, as President Obama faced a close congressional vote on his health care overhaul, the Democrats again changed the law to empower the governor to appoint a temporary senator while the special election was held.
Brown ended up winning that election, a bitter bit of revenge for his party, since his victory would have been impossible had Democrats not started fiddling with the succession law in 2004.
Patrick has said he will not seek a third term as governor in 2014, but Grossman says he is discussing his own candidacy with his family, friends, and political supporters. Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray,a fellow Democrat, has also said he would like to succeed Patrick.
Republican Charles D. Baker, the GOP’s failed 2010 gubernatorial candidate, has indicated he may run again if Brown does not seek that seat himself.