Ted Kennedy has been well remembered and buried.
Now, the question becomes, who will replace “the lion of the Senate” in the seat representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Some of Kennedy’s closest friends in the Senate have made a choice.
They want it to be the senator’s widow, Vicki.
Before her husband’s death, Vicki Kennedy expressed reluctance about the accepting a temporary appointment for the Massachusetts seat and about running in a special election (tentatively set for January) to fill the remainder of the term.
But momentum is building — as least among Kennedy’s fellow senators — for her selection.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, a longtime colleague of the late senator’s on the Judiciary Committee and his closest friend on the Republican side of the aisle, said Sunday on CNN: “I think Vicki ought to be considered. She’s a very brilliant lawyer. She’s a very solid individual. She certainly made a difference in Ted’s life, let me tell you. And I have nothing but great respect for her.”
Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, Kennedy’s frequent ally in legislative fights and closest friend on the Democratic side, said pretty much the same thing.
“Whatever Vicki wants to do, I’m in her corner,” Dodd told CNN. “She knows that. And she’s expressed to me her own sort of reluctance to [fill in for Kennedy], but she could change her mind. If she did, I’m for it. I think she’d be great.”
“She brings talent and ability to it, and to fill that spot I think is something the people of Massachusetts would welcome. We could certainly use her in the Senate,” Dodd continued. “But I leave that up to her. She’s got a lot on her mind right now, and frankly, I’ll leave it up to her decision-making process.”
Speculation about appointing Kennedy comes as Massachusetts legislators ponder a proposal to allow the state’s Democratic governor, Deval Patrick, to appoint a temporary replacement to serve until a special election that would likely be held in January.
The proposed change is controversial, and has drawn much criticism from Republicans who hope to take advantage of the Kennedy vacancy — which puts Democrats one seat down from the 60 they need to thwart filibusters on major issues such as healthcare reform.
That makes Hatch’s statement a significant one. The prospect of a Vicki Kennedy appointment could ease the way for changing the law. Additionally, having a prominent Republican on the Vicki Kennedy bandwagon might give Governor Patrick another reason to appoint her — if she shows an interest in the seat.
Those who oppose the appointment of senators — including this writer — continue to hold out hope that efforts to rewrite Massachusetts law to permit an appointment will be thwarted. The better choice is to set a tight election schedule that will allow everyone who wants the seat — Vicki Kennedy included — to contend for it, and allow the voters to make the choice.
How would a Kennedy, especially a Kennedy widow with strong skills and a winning personality, do in a special election?
This is Massachusetts we’re talking about. She would win.