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Special Election Set for Kennedy Seat

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Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick announced on Monday that a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the late Edward M. Kennedy would be held on January 19. The governor made the announcement as he continued to press legislators to change the law and allow him to appoint an interim successor to serve until the special election.

A state legislative committee is scheduled to hold a hearing next Wednesday on whether to change the law to allow Governor Patrick to appoint a successor to Kennedy until voters can elect his replacement. Senator Kennedy made that request of state leaders shortly before he died, citing the urgency of issues such as health care reform pending before Congress.

"My job right now is to think of the best interests of the commonwealth,'' Patrick said, according to The Boston Globe. "And I think having a full complement -- two voices in the United States Senate -- is in the best interests of the commonwealth. We have a stake in this health care debate in the Congress right now, we have a stake in the climate change bill, and in education.''

Party primaries for the special election will be held on December 8. Political observers awaited word on whether Joe Kennedy, a former congressman and nephew of the deceased senator, would enter the race, as hotly speculated. Confidants of Victoria Kennedy, the senator's widow, continued to downplay speculation that she would enter the race.

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