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Path Cleared for Mass. Senate Appointment

(AP)
The legislature in Massachusetts has given final approval to a bill that gives Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick the right to appoint an interim successor to Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Associated Press is reporting.

Patrick plans to sign the bill and make the appointment, giving a boost to Democrats in their efforts to pass health care reform and other legislation.

The Massachusetts House declined to add a provision to the bill mandating that it would immediately take effect, the AP reports. That means Patrick must send a letter to the secretary of state declaring an emergency if he wants to make the appointment in the next 90 days.

It is widely expected that Patrick will name former close Kennedy aide Paul Kirk (pictured above) to the seat. Kirk, who is 71, reportedly has the backing of Kennedy's two sons, Patrick and Edward, as well as his widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy.

Former Massachusetts Governor and Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis is among the other names that have been mentioned as possible appointees.

The person appointed to the seat will serve until January, when a new election will be held to determine who will serve out the remaining three years of Kennedy's term. The longtime legislator died in August following a battle with brain cancer.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Ted Kennedy

Kirk, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee, lives on Cape Cod and chairs the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. It is believed he would vote in much the same way that Ted Kennedy did as senator.

His appointment or that of another Democrat would mean that a filibuster-proof majority of 60 senators will again caucus with the Democrats in the Senate.

Massachusetts Republicans have complained that Democrats are bring hypocritical in passing the bill, because they defeated GOP efforts to pass a similar bill in 2004 and 2006 when a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, was in office.

More on the Massachusetts Senate:

Curt Schilling Won't Run for Seat

GOP Candidate a Former Nude Centerfold

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