Ted Kennedy's deathbed desire for his Senate seat to be quickly filled by gubernatorial appointment was initially met with a chilly reception, and for good reason only five years ago, when Republican Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, the state's Democratically controlled legislature stripped his ability to do just that. Despite the awkwardness of renewing the power now, the idea seems to be picking up steam in the wake of Kennedy's death. In the past few days, the state's top legislative leaders have started to come around to the idea, while Governor Deval Patrick has offered his full-throated support. And the move wouldn't be as nakedly partisan as it might at first seem: The appointee would be a temporary placeholder, barred (somehow) from running in the special election planned for January, so none of the candidates then will have the benefit of incumbency. But he or she would serve as a potentially crucial vote depending on the route Democrats go in the next few months in the battle for health-care reform. It's all up in the air for now, as Massachusetts politicians are, graciously, trying to hold off on debating how to replace Kennedy at least until he's buried this weekend.
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