A Different Kind of Temporary Senator?

With all the speculation that Senator John Kerry will be named Secretary of State local politicos are consumed with who will run and who Governor Deval Patrick will name as the interim senator. In that vein Conor Yunits has a very good op-ed Look outside ranks of pols, rich in the Boston Herald today. Conor calls for some outside-the box-thinking; the governor should consider appointing someone from a group that almost never gets senate representation. He suggests a young person; or a veteran; or an African-American (none currently in the senate); another woman; a political outsider; or someone from the 99%.

Conor writes:

If and when a special election is held — likely in May or June 2013 — voters will probably elect a former senator (Scott Brown), a familiar name (Kennedy), a current congressman (Michael Capuano, Stephen Lynch, Ed Markey), a constitutional officer (Martha Coakley), or a wealthy newcomer. In the meantime, Patrick should jump at the chance to add a new voice to the debate in the Senate chamber.

Conor is on to something here. Such an appointment could elevate the career of some promising individual who might not otherwise have the chance. We might take a modest step toward greater diversity in our representation.

Extending Conor’s argument, perhaps the governor could appoint someone who is just wild about a single important issue and could be the moral voice of the Senate on the issue for a time. Like gun control. Or global warming.

Such an appointment would no doubt disappoint some among our political royalty but it would say this time isn’t about politics as usual.

About Maurice T. Cunningham

Maurice T. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He teaches courses in American government including Massachusetts Politics, The American Presidency, Catholics in Political Life, The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, American Political Thought, and Public Policy. His book Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting and the Department of Justice examines the role of the DOJ in requiring states to maximize minority voting districts in the Nineties. He has published articles dealing with the role of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts politics and on party politics in the state. His research interests focus upon the changing political culture of Massachusetts.
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