Who Should Pick Senator Edward Kennedy's Senate Replacement?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," August 28, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, to Massachusetts right now, and the scramble to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, a seat that could prove pivotal in this whole health care vote, Democrats pushing to ditch the special election and let the state's Democratic governor choose a replacement.

My next guest says, let the people decide — and he is a Democrat.

Massachusetts State Representative William Straus joins me right now.

Representative, good to have you.


CAVUTO: The way it would be now, Representative, is a special election when?

STRAUS: Right now, we would be looking at a special election either in the second or third week in January.

And no one is quarreling with that, to be fair. There will be a special election. And that was a statute that we adopted in 2004, over the veto of then Governor Romney. But we — we did it nevertheless.

The issue that has come down is whether, in the interim, the governor should have the power to appoint a temporary senator. And my own feeling, as a member of the legislature, is that we should leave the statute in place, because, constitutionally, you could not — even though some people feel you could — you could not stop the person who has been appointed from then running in office.

And the whole idea of this statutory change five years ago was to get governors out of the process of picking U.S. senators.

CAVUTO: It's interesting, though, Representative, that it was Ted Kennedy who championed that cause, precisely, I guess, the interpretation at the time was have a Republican governor not name a replacement for John Kerry, had he been elected president.


CAVUTO: Now, being that as it may, the argument for doing this, as you know, is that Massachusetts would be out and Democrats nationally would be out a crucial vote at a crucial time on health care, which was, I think, the gist of — of Ted Kennedy's last dying wish.

What — what do you make of that and — and whether there is anything to that argument?

STRAUS: Well, look, I mean, we are in a period of mourning here in Massachusetts. We have lost what we feel is just a fabulous senator for ourselves and even the country. So, there is a great deal of respect for the wishes that he expressed last week.

I was the chairman of the Election Laws Committee in the House at the time we made this change in 2004. And there were suggestions. My Republican colleagues offered an amendment at that time, anticipating this kind of problem. But we rejected that, because again, there would be no way to stop the governor from, in effect, putting their thumb on the scale and picking an insider.

CAVUTO: Right.

STRAUS: And there will always be...

CAVUTO: No, I see your partisan, but there is some history, right, Representative, because, when John Kennedy became president, there was a caretaker briefly in his Senate seat, until his brother Teddy ran for that — that seat and won it.

So, many who argue for it say, well, that was a great example.

STRAUS: Well, that was an example of what had — what has happened.

The irony is, I remember six, seven, eight months ago, when we watched things play out in New York State and in Illinois, many people at that time, less than a year ago, were saying, hey, maybe they did it right in Massachusetts. We should just...

CAVUTO: Very good point.

STRAUS: ... keep governors out of the process.

CAVUTO: Very good point.

STRAUS: And I think there will always be important issues of the day.


STRAUS: That is the nature of the U.S. Senate.

CAVUTO: All right.

STRAUS: There will be Supreme Court vacancies and everything.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

STRAUS: But, at this point, I think, keep the governors out.

CAVUTO: Understood.

Representative, sorry to rush you there at the end. Thank you very much for coming on.

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