Ex-DNC Chair Kirk to Replace Kennedy

Family friend, former staffer was emcee at Teddy's memorial
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2009 9:38 AM CDT
Paul Kirk shares a laugh with late Sen. Edward Kennedy, center, and his wife Victoria at the annual Profile in Courage Award ceremonies in Boston, May 12, 2008.   (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)
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(Newser) – Deval Patrick has chosen former Democratic Party national chairman Paul Kirk to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate, giving Barack Obama the 60th vote he needs to pass health care reform. The 71-year-old Kirk is a former Kennedy staffer, and was such close friends with the senator that he served as master of ceremonies at his memorial service. He’s also a former pharmaceutical company lobbyist, and a board member at Hartford Insurance Group.

The Massachusetts legislature yesterday passed a controversial bill giving Patrick the power to appoint someone. But it's power Patrick wasn’t thrilled to have, the Boston Globe notes. He believed any pick would anger some portion of the Democratic establishment, and many independents don’t believe he should have the power at all. Kirk will only be in power until a January special election.