Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced his decision to appoint William “Mo” Cowan, his former chief of staff, to temporarily fill incoming Secretary of State John Kerry’s Senate seat Wednesday.
“Mo’s service on the front lines in our efforts to manage through the worst economy in 80 years and build a better, stronger Commonwealth for the next generation has earned him the respect and admiration of people throughout government,” Patrick said in a statement. “The people of the Commonwealth have benefited from his wisdom and good judgment during his time in our office, and will again in the Senate.”
Cowan will be one of two African-Americans in the U.S. Senate, joining South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, who was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to fill Jim DeMint’s senate seat in December.
“There is talent in every community in the commonwealth and to the extent that we can reflect that and encourage little boys and little girls of color or who are poor or who grew up in marginalized circumstances to imagine what it might be like to serve the public in these ways, then I think that’s a great thing,” Patrick said at Wednesday’s press conference.
Kerry’s ascension to the Department of State will trigger a special election to permanently fill his Senate seat. The special election primary is expected to take place during mid-May, with the special general election to follow on June 25.
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican who was ushered into the senate in a 2010 special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat, and ousted by Democrat Elizabeth Warren in November, is expected to run for Kerry’s seat. A poll conducted by WBUR last week showed Brown leading every potential Democratic member of Congress who might run for Kerry’s seat by 17 to 19 points. Per NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, other potential contenders include Ed Markey, the most senior member of the Massachusetts delegation, and Sen. Ted Kennedy’s son, Teddy Jr., as well as actor Ben Affleck, who left the door open in an December interview with “Face the Nation,” then declared on his Facebook page that he would not run.
The senate easily confirmed Kerry in a 94-3 vote Tuesday. Kerry, a 28-year veteran of the Senate, will be sworn in on Friday and begins his new role as head of the State Department on Monday. Secretary Hillary Clinton steps down Friday.