(CNN) - Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Thursday he has chosen longtime Kennedy friend Paul Kirk to fill the vacant seat left open by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy until a special election is held in January.
Patrick said Kirk will begin serving immediately, not in the 90 days that the measure passed by the Massachusetts House and Senate allowing for the appointment stipulates. The measure, which passed both chambers Wednesday, includes a provision allowing the interim senator to begin immediately if the governor declares it is an emergency.
"He's a distinguished lawyer, volunteer and citizen and he shares the sense of service that so distinguished Sen. Ted Kennedy," Patrick said. "Paul will not seek the open seat in the special election that's coming up in January but for the next few months he'll carry on the work and focus of Senator Kennedy, mindful of his mission and his values and his love of Massachusetts.
Kirk is a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and currently heads the John F. Kennedy library in Boston.
"I was personally privileged to have had senator Kennedy's friendship, his trust, and his confidence," Kirk said. "He often said that representing the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the Senate of the United States was the highest honor that he could possibly imagine. And it certainly is nothing i imagined but it will be my highest honor as well."
Patrick said Kirk was chosen among 6 finalists for the post.
The appointment gives Democrats a crucial 60th vote in the Senate as the chamber weighs President Obama's health care proposal.
In a statement released Thursday, Obama called Kirk a "distinguished leader, whose long collaboration with Senator Kennedy makes him an excellent, interim choice to carry on his work until the voters make their choice in January."
This is what you get with one-party rule like they have in Mass. The rules are made to fit what the dems need at the time without regard for the will of the electorate and good governance. Mass. even tried to extend its sales taxes to out of state businesses and got slapped down in the courts. No wonder business is fleeing to New Hampshire.
Do what is necessary to run over the Republican Obstructionists, the most negative political party in our history!
They are Hellbent on destroying everything Obama is trying to accomplish and bring him down!
Truly disgusting people, owned and operated by – Corporate America......
Welcome aboard, Senator Kirk. Let's get the job done!
If the Republicans were in power and tried to change the law for the immediate good of the party, they would have been castigated.
What have we come to, that one party can maneuver around the laws for their own benefit? Are we in a 3rd world country now?
Interesting that only 2 weeks ago, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL)'s replacement was sworn in – Republican Governor Charlie Crist's Chief of Staff. No bru-ha-ha over that? And, I think (for whoever cares) that any replacement named MUST be of the same party that s/he is replacing. Then let the subsequent election move on accordingly. But appointments should be the same.
Kirk is a great pick.Hahaha,we laugh at the GOP,and hope they dont like it.
He will do fine. He knows what Ted Kennedy wanted, he knows the system, and he will help get us the health care overhaul this country desperately needs.
It's a shame that Ted Kennedy passed on before his time, but Senator Kirk will carry the torch for him.
I surely hope the Democrats see the hypocrisy here. They better not support the decision to change the law. The Democratic leaders are not what I once thought they were. Ever since the primaries of 2008 I've been very disappointed in the Democrats. Never will I vote for them again.
How can they just change the rules to fit what they want to do at any given time? This is representation of the people? Sounds like a bunch of self-serving career politicians to me....
We changed it like the republicans would have and we hope they dont like it.