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Mass. Lt. Governor Asks Kerry to Quit Senate

A top Massachusetts Republican on Tuesday called on Democrat John Kerry (search) to resign from the Senate while he seeks the presidency, a vacancy that would allow the GOP to fill the seat.

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (search) argued that Kerry, the state's four-term senator, has missed too many roll call votes and has done a poor job of representing his constituents. Of the 112 Senate votes this year, Kerry has voted just 14 times, according to an Associated Press tally.

"It's not fair, it's not right and the public is not being well-served," said Healey, who said she was speaking on behalf of Republican Gov. Mitt Romney (search). "I'm calling on John Kerry to resign so that we can fill that office with someone who is 100 percent devoted to the job of representing the people of Massachusetts."

A spokesman for the Kerry campaign did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Kerry, who will receive the Democratic nomination for president at next month's convention in Boston, said in February that he had no plans to resign his Senate seat.

Under Massachusetts law and the constitution, if a vacancy occurs Romney would appoint an interim senator, who would serve until the next state election in 2006. There would then be an election to fill the final two years of Kerry's term, which ends in 2008. And in 2008 there would be an election for a full six-year term.

There is no mechanism to call for a special election.

In 1996, Republican Bob Dole (search) gave up his seat as Kansas senator in early June before formally receiving the GOP nod to run against President Clinton. When Dole quit the Senate, the state's Republican governor, Bill Graves, appointed Republican Lt. Gov. Sheila Frahm to fill the remainder of the term until a special election, also won by the GOP.

Four years later, Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) of Connecticut ran for re-election to his Senate seat while simultaneously running as the Democratic vice presidential candidate. That decision worried some state Democrats because if Lieberman had resigned, a Democrat could have run. But if he stayed and became vice president, Republican Gov. John Rowland would have appointed a GOP replacement.

Lieberman's safety net worked for him. He lost the White House race, but kept his Senate seat.