Sacred Cods and Holy Mackerals

Poking the tiger?

Back in 2004, when Sen. Kerry appeared on his way to making President Bush a one-termer, Massachusetts democrats realized they had a problem on their hands. Namely, that if when Kerry won, his replacement would be appointed by the governor. And the governor at the time was one of those filthy half-breed REPUBLICANS! (Horror movie scream here)

I mean, could you imagine if Gov. Romney had been able to appoint a new US Senator from Massachusetts? It may have been someone crazy like Bill Weld, or Charlie Baker. Personally, I was rooting for Barbara Anderson. Now THAT would have been funny!

I’m sure that the state Democratic Party was also receiving a wee bit of pressure from the National Party, which was desperately trying to hold on to the tie in the Senate. Losing control of the Senate because a Democratic senator was elected President would have been more ironic than a Harvard student wearing Chuck Taylors and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Anyway, the Democratic-controlled Legislature saw this as a great chance to remind Gov. Romney and the state Republican party of just how little power they actually had, and voted to change the rules and require that vacant US Senate seats be filled through a special election. For democracy’s sake of course…

“Someone a few minutes ago said this is a power grab. In a sense, he is right. It is a power grab of the voters, away from someone sitting in the corner office, making a few phone calls and making someone a US senator.” — Floor speech by Rep. William M. Straus (D-Mattapoisett) May, 2004, according to SHNS.

“The overwhelming majority of testimony and our constituents support letting the voters decide. As many as 70 percent of those polled said they would like to decide who the next senator is if Sen. Kerry is successful in his pursuit of the presidency. Politics aside, this is in the best interests of our democracy.” – Floor speech by Sen. Brian Joyce (D-Milton) May, 2004, according to SHNS.

Well here it is 2008 and Sen. Kerry is once again thinking of leaving, this time for a job in the Obama Administration. Except — oops! — now there’s a Democrat in the Corner Office. And frankly, the voters have been a bit grumpy lately. There’s no telling what those bunch of crazy bastards would do, if allowed to vote for Baker, or Paul Cellucci, or Scott Brown, or Bob Hedlund.

So naturally the Democrats are talking about changing the law BACK to how it was pre-Romney and allowing Gov. Patrick, a good Democrat, to make an appointment. Hingham Democrat Garrett Bradley, the House chairman of the Election Laws Committee, was quoted Thursday as saying he would support the change if it comes next year, especially considering that a decline in Ted Kennedy’s health could lead to a situation where Massachusetts is without representation in the US Senate.

“These factors present a unique circumstance,” he said.

He did at least later acknowledge that the 2004 change was politically motivated.

Here’s the problem for the Democrats: the voting public generally doesn’t appreciate it when government takes away their ability to vote. (See: marriage, gay) So to suddenly say to the public, “Remember how we were going to allow you to vote to fill the US Senate seat? Well, never mind..” probably won’t go over too well. Voters can be dumb, but they know political arrogance when they see it and generally don’t like it. A lot of voters are already uncomfortable with the lack of balance in the Legislature. So the Democrats should think long and hard about whether it would be worth possibly finding the breaking point of voters, just to play political games with a seat they have a 95% chance of keeping anyway.

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