Text of Sen. Edward Kennedy's letter on replacing him in the Senate
As has been reported today, the ailing Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is asking Massachusetts leaders to change state law to allow a speedy replacement of him in Congress.
The 77-year-old Democrat, who is battling cancer, makes no direct mention of his illness, but says, “I am now writing to you about an issue that concerns me deeply — the continuity of representation for Massachusetts should a Senate vacancy occur.”
Poignant in its simplicity, the letter is addressed to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray.
Here is the text of the letter as distributed by he Associated Press:
Dear Governor Patrick, President Murray and Speaker DeLeo:
For almost forty-seven years, I have had the privilege of representing the people of Massachusetts in the United States Senate. I am proud of the contribution our Commonwealth has made to the great debates of our time and our national history. I believe the voices and views of those we have elected to the Senate and the House of Representatives have shaped America’s progress — from the days of John Adams and Daniel Webster to the present.
I am now writing to you about an issue that concerns me deeply — the continuity of representation for Massachusetts should a Senate vacancy occur. In 2004, as you know, the law was changed to provide for a special election to choose a new Senator to serve for the remainder of an unexpired term. The law now mandates that the special election be held 145 to 160 days after a Senate seat becomes vacant. I strongly support that law and the principle that the people should elect their Senator; I also believe it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election.
I therefore am writing to urge you to work together to amend the law through the normal legislative process to provide for a temporary gubernatorial appointment until the special election occurs. To ensure a fair election process, I also urge that the Governor obtain, as a condition of appointment of the interim Senator, an explicit personal commitment not to become a candidate in the special election.
Serving the people of Massachusetts in the United States Senate has been — and still is — the greatest honor of my public life. As I look ahead, I am convinced that enabling the Governor to fill a Senate vacancy through an interim appointment followed by a special election would best serve the people of our Commonwealth and country should a vacancy occur.
Edward M. Kennedy
-- Steve Padilla
Photo: Associated Press