James Taranto at “Best of the Web Today” outlines a very interesting possible scenario should Ted Kennedy leave office prematurely and a replacement be needed. (Kennedy’s regular term expires in 2013.) As Taranto points out, the Democrats in 2004 changed the age-old rules for replacing a US Senator who leaves office before his term his up.
In 2004, Massachusetts Democrats anticipated another Senate vacancy, when one of their own—a haughty, French-looking one, who by the way served in Vietnam—received a presidential nomination. The governor at the time, Mitt Romney, was a Republican, and Democrats, including Sen. Kennedy, wanted to keep the seat in Democratic hands.
So the Massachusetts Legislature voted along party lines to strip the governor of his appointment power, even that of appointing an interim Senator, requiring instead a special election with 145 to 160 days after the vacancy. In that case, it was to strip a Republican of his power. In this case it would prevent Democrat Deval Patrick from appointing a replacement.
While it would seem the Democrats are still favored, there would be a lot of jockeying for the seat on their side. Meanwhile, the Republicans have a contender who managed 41% of the vote against Kennedy in 1994, then won statewide office eight years later. And he happens to be unemployed at the moment: Mitt Romney. Could he win? Maybe, maybe not. If he still holds presidential aspirations, it might be worthwhile to throw his hat in the ring and give it a shot.
Of course, we shouldn’t put it past the Democrats to change the rules in the middle of the game and just reverse their previous law. After all, using and abusing the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government to advance your own agenda and power is the name of the liberal Democrat game in Massachusetts.
Still it makes an interesting thought experiment.