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Baker says he would veto any attempt to change law that allows him to name interim senator

Governor Charlie Baker.
Governor Charlie Baker.Stuart Cahill/Pool

Amid swirling speculation about the potential of Senator Elizabeth Warren landing a Cabinet post in president-elect Joe Biden’s administration, Governor Charlie Baker said that he would veto any legislative attempt to change the law that gives him the authority to name a senator in the case of a vacancy.

Whether the state Legislature, which twice changed the pertinent law in the face of political headwinds, would once again push for a revision remains to be seen, but if were to happen, Baker, speaking to WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller, said it would be a “bad look for everybody,” according to a transcript of the interview provided by the Baker administration on Thursday.

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“If they were to send legislation to change the rules yet again, you know and I don’t say this very often, I’d veto that because I think situational dynamics around this stuff when it comes to process associated with elections, it’s just a bad look for government generally,” said Baker, a Republican from Swampscott.

He continued, “It’s part of why I’m so upset about what’s going on in Washington right now generally with the results of the election. So look — if Senator Warren ends up being appointed by the Biden administration to do something, you know, I’ll follow the law, and I really think everybody else who works in this building should do the same thing.”

Under current state law, Baker holds the power in selecting who fills a Senate vacancy ahead of a special election. The governor is said not to have had deep discussions about how he’d approach a pick, but it’s widely expected he would name a Republican, likely cast from the same moderate mold as Baker.

In previous years, the Democratic-controlled Legislature has twice changed the law, sapping then-governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, of the appointment power in 2004 and then restoring it for Deval Patrick in 2009 so he could temporarily fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat.

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Patrick did the same in 2013 after John Kerry took over as Obama’s secretary of state, setting off a series of special elections that first thrust Markey into the Senate, Katherine Clark into the House, and Jason M. Lewis into the state Senate.

Warren, a progressive Cambridge Democrat, has reportedly expressed interest in serving as treasury secretary. However, much is in flux. If Biden were to tap his former presidential rival for a Cabinet position, it remains an open question whether she would clear the Senate confirmation process.

Democrats' majority in the Massachusetts Legislature is sufficient to override any Baker veto depending on how many vote the party line.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald. Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.