Kennedy Urges Mass. Leaders to Fill His Senate Seat Quickly

Looking ahead to his death, health care vote
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2009 5:33 AM CDT
President Barack Obama speaks with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., at the White House Forum on Health Reform in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 5, 2009.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – In a letter indirectly invoking his own terminal illness and the current health care debate, Ted Kennedy has urged Massachusetts leaders to take special measures to make sure the state won't lack a Senate vote when his seat becomes vacant, the Boston Globe reports. Kennedy called for the governor to be given authority to appoint someone to fill the spot until an election can be held to chose a successor.

Improving health care for all has been a lifelong leading cause for Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, and the fate of President Obama's health care reform may hinge on one or two Senate votes. Under current law, there could be a gap of up to five months between the seat becoming vacant and a new senator taking office.