Kerry's Senate replacement has the 'cool' factor
January 30th, 2013
12:42 PM ET
9 years ago

Kerry's Senate replacement has the 'cool' factor

(CNN) - The newest member of the U.S. Senate is "cool."

So say the governor and lieutenant governor of Massachusetts.

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Wednesday Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick announced that a trusted former aide was his choice to serve as an interim replacement for Sen. John Kerry, who will step down later this week to take over as secretary of state.

Patrick named William "Mo" Cowan, his former chief of staff, as senator. Cowan, who will serve through the June special election, will become the second African-American currently serving in the U.S. Senate, alongside Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina. Scott, who was just elected in November to a second term as a congressman, was named last month to succeed Sen. Jim DeMint, who stepped down from his seat.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference at the state capital in Boston, Patrick added that Cowan "has been a valued ally to me and to our work on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth and I am confident he will be to his new colleagues in the United States Senate and to the president as well."

Last month President Barack Obama nominated Kerry, the longtime senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee as his choice to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Senate overwhelming confirmed Kerry on Tuesday, and he is expected to take over as America's top diplomat at the end of this week.

Cowan praised the outgoing senator and his staff: "Secretary Kerry and his Senate staff have extremely well by the people of Massachusetts and working with that staff I aim to continue that work over the next few months."

Cowan, a North Carolina native who came to Boston in the early 1990's and became one of the city's leading African-American lawyers, said he can make a difference even in the short amount of time he'll serve as a senator.

"During this interim period I will go to work every day with the needs and aspirations of our state's citizens and residents foremost in my mind."
Both Patrick, who is also black, and Cowan, were asked about the significance of the naming of an African-American to the Senate.

"The commonwealth and the country are changing. The breadth of diversity, of background, of ethnicity, and race is deeper and broader than ever," said Patrick.

"Massachusetts is a commonwealth of opportunity for everyone," added Cowan, but he also said that "I suspect that the reason I'm standing here is not because of my personal color, I'm African-American. I believe, as the governor's indicated, that he's got confidence that I will do the job that he's sending me to do."

Patrick, in his opening remarks, mentioned that Cowan was also "cool."

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray agreed, saying "Tom Brady, George Clooney, James Bond, the president have nothing on Mo."

Patrick said he made the decision to name Cowan Tuesday. Another person he was believed to be considering as interim senator was Carol Fulp, a big backer of both Patrick and President Barack Obama, who is also very plugged into Bay State Democratic politics. Fulp is also African-American.

Other names mentioned over the past two months were Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, and former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee.
And former Rep. Barney Frank, who retired at the end of last year after decades in the House, earlier this month made a very public pitch to be named the interim senator.

Patrick made clear that whom ever he picked would serve as a placeholder and would not run in the special election to fill Kerry's seat. Asked if this is going to be a short political career or if he'll run for office in the future, Cowan said "this will be a very short political career," adding that "I am not running for office. I am not a candidate for public service at anytime today or in the future."

The special election will be held on June 25. As of now liberal Rep. Edward Markey is the only Democrat who's announced a bid. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Kerry and Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Ted Kennedy, have endorsed Markey, the longest serving member of the Bay State's congressional delegation.

Rep. Stephen Lynch will hold a news conference in Boston on Thursday to announce he plans to run, CNN has learned. The social conservative Democrat from South Boston's been flirting with a run the past two months. Earlier this month two other Democrats who were considering bids, Rep. Michael Capuano and state Sen. Ben Downing, decided against running.

On the Republican side, the big question is whether former Sen. Scott Brown will make a bid to return to the Senate, or instead run for governor in 2014?

"Brown is still in the process of deciding and discussing it with his wife and family. No talk on timing yet," said a GOP strategist in Massachusetts close to Brown, who insisted on anonymity to speak more freely.

In January 2010, then Republican state lawmaker Brown upset Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, the state's attorney general, in a special election to fill the final two years of the term of longtime Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, who died the previous summer. Coakley defeated Capuano in a multi-candidate Democratic primary.

Brown won the special election by five points over Coakley, but lost his re-election bid in November to Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren by eight points. Around 2.3 million voters cast ballots in the 2010 special election, and nearly 3.2 million voting in last month's general election. A big question is whether the 2013 electorate will look more like that of the 2010 contest or that of last month's general election.

Whoever wins the June special election would serve the final year and a half of Kerry's term and would then have to run again in 2014 for a full six-year term in office.

- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King and CNN Political Director Mark Preston contributed to this report

Filed under: Deval Patrick • John Kerry • Massachusetts
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Woman In California

    Why anyone would want to fill a position for such a short time, without having higher ambitions amazes me. I guess Mr. Cowan has his reasons....

    January 30, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    [ Morris Day voice } Cool. Jerome gonna be Senator.

    January 30, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Sarah J

    If a Republican called him 'cool' he'd be labeled a racist.

    January 30, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. simp

    how in the heck is tom brady in the mix of cool people comparison? The only thing about Brady that stands out is the size of his head. he has the biggest head in football, I mean the size, nothig else!

    January 30, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    "Cool" eh? When did "cool" show up in the qualifications?

    Sigh.... well, thank God it wasn't Frank.

    January 30, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. A Kickin` Donkey

    A 2016 Democratic administration should be able to find key leadership roles for Deval Patrick [Massachusetts] , Martin O`Malley [Maryland] , Brian Schwitzer [Montana] and Kirsten Gillibrand [New York]. Perhaps Hiliary runs, serves 1 term, and hands the reins to one of them as VEEP. Democrats would be smart to keep the pump primed with leadership talent so that they don`t repeat the mistakes of the [GOP]. i.e. being STUCK with a lackluster group like McCain, Thompson, Perry, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Bachmann, Santorum, Romney, etc.

    January 30, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Pander Bear

    "Sarah J – If a Republican called him 'cool' he'd be labeled a racist."

    Oh please, your persecution complex is just boring.

    January 30, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Facts don't Lie

    Gosh a Black person appointing ANOTHER Black person....OMG how racist is that?? I'm sure the right could have a field day with if it weren't for the fact it happens the other way around moreso than it doesn here.

    January 30, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. The NRA is a T e r r o r i st organisation....Arming Mentally Unbalanced People to Kill Innocent Children

    No more WHITES ONLY 100 person Senate!...............more blacks, more hispanics, more asian Americans, more Native Americans are needed!!!


    January 30, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. Wake up People!

    I don't think having the "cool" factor is important. As long as he works for the people. Actually I'm wondering, what makes him cool?

    I think many people think President Obama is so popular because he's cool. That's not it, people like him because he's a good guy that cares about the little people. The fact that he has the cool factor is simply icing on the cake. But you can't deny it the POTUS definitely has swag.

    January 30, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Rick in OP

    The blatant gushing of the slobbering mainstream media over anyone who is labeled Democrat has become nauseating.
    Why don't we stop using the term "mainstream media" and call them what they really are:
    "The Democratic Party Propaganda Bureau"
    It is very much like Pravda was in the old Soviet Union.

    January 30, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. The NRA is a T e r r o r i st organisation....Arming Mentally Unbalanced People to Kill Innocent Children

    @ Rick in OP,
    the slobbering mainstream media over anyone who is labeled a GOP TeaParty NUTs is going on right now @ FAUX NEWS....So why don't we stop using the term "mainstream media" in relation with FAUX NEWS and call them what they really are: "The Republican Party Propaganda Bureau"!!!

    FAUX NEWS is making the renowned NAZI Propagandist Joseph goebbels PROUD!!!

    January 30, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Meanwhile, she's a senator (STATEWIDE office) and he was a representative (district office). Neither are national offices. Please... keep going. You're really becoming amusing.
    Yes, Senator is a state wide office and representative is merely a district office, but it does not change the fact that they both SERVE at the national level. You're starting to overreach, Fair. Remember the AMT last week?
    Ahhhh.. but you said that Democrats at the national level love liberals from MA. Now how would we know that, Rudy? Well, we really couldn't know that unless they were running for national office. Again, the last 2 were Dukakis, Kerry... both losers.

    Now... your pet subject, the AMT. Well, Rudy, the AMT does not even come into consideration unless income exceeds $175,000 ($87,500 married filing seperately). NOT $50,000 as you claim. Just because Rudy says so does not make it true. To use your buddy Sniffit's line – googles it man.

    January 30, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Rick in OP wrote:

    The blatant gushing of the slobbering mainstream media over anyone who is labeled Democrat has become nauseating.
    Republicans get their equal time. Unfortunately, their news is all too often bizarre or shocking news. Donald Trump issuing challenges to the POTUS. Bachmann callling the POTUS the "gangsta president". Gov. Perry saying "oops". Mitt Romney denigrating the "47%" Santorum saying he "doesn't want to see 'blah' people get welfare". And, I haven't even gotten started on the abortion remarks. In fact, I would say that overal Republicans get more than their fair share of media time.

    January 30, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Terry

    "The NRA is a T e r r o r i st organisation....Arming Mentally Unbalanced People to Kill Innocent Children"
    Someone needs their diaper changed.

    January 30, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Is that "cool" as in the lack of hair on his roof keeps him cool?
    What a random comment to make about this gentleman.

    January 30, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Randy

    In addition, police reports in Chicago – where President Obama once worked as a community organizer and where his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, now serves as mayor – show most of the city’s massive murder mayhem is black-on-black crime.
    more killed than in the afgan war, strict gunlaws, what a joke

    January 30, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. Lisa

    "Senate replacement has the 'cool' factor" Isn't that kinda racist?

    January 30, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  19. the age of Obama

    What a stupid article.

    January 30, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  20. empresstrudy

    Stupid law. Just appoint him to fill out the term and skip these silly elections. What's the point?

    January 30, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  21. Sarah

    Yeah, we see how "cool" has worked out for us. That's what Obama is known as...."cool" and what a failure he's been.

    January 30, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  22. Romeo

    When Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott the news media said she was pandering by appointing a black man and they question his qualifications. It's good to know democrats can do the same and have media support.

    January 30, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |