Interim senator may help sway major issues
BOSTON — Although his time in the Senate will be brief — less than five full months — William “Mo” Cowan could find himself in the thick of major policy debates from the federal budget to immigration reform and gun control.
Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday appointed Cowan, his former chief of staff, to serve as the interim senator for Massachusetts until a special election is held June 25 to fill the seat left vacant by John Kerry's confirmation as the nation's next secretary of State.
Cowan, 43, will be the state's second black senator. Edward Brooke, a Republican, served two terms from 1967-1979.
With the “fiscal cliff” agreement Jan. 1 and looming automatic spending cuts, known as sequester, expected to take effect in March, Cowan said he backed a balanced approach to the nation's fiscal woes that include some spending cuts and new revenues.
“I don't think anyone believes it's in the best interests to do straight across-the-board cuts,” he said.
“If a sequester happens, it's going to have significant impact on Massachusetts,” he added. Some of the cuts could target grants to the state's highly regarded universities and research facilities.
Cowan, 43, stepped down last month as chief of staff, a post he assumed in 2010 after previously serving as Patrick's chief legal counsel.
Patrick lauded Cowan for helping manage the state through the recession and said he had earned the respect of people throughout government.
“In every step, he has brought preparation, perspective, wisdom, sound judgment and clarity of purpose,” Patrick said while introducing Cowan at a Statehouse news conference.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that he believes President Obama will be encouraged by the appointment of Cowan, along with a record number of female senators, “because he believes that diversity adds to the quality of debate.”
In the days leading up to the selection, Patrick said that he would consider diversity in his choice of interim senator. He had insisted that the interim appointment be someone with no interest in holding the job permanently, and Cowan went further on Wednesday by saying he had no intention of running for any elected office in the future.
“This is going to be a very short political career,” he joked.
Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, who recently retired after more than three decades in the House, had been the only person to publicly express interest in the interim post, and Patrick had acknowledged that Frank was among those he had considered.
Wednesday was the second time that Patrick has selected an interim senator. In 2009, following the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, Patrick named Paul Kirk, a Democratic party operative and Kennedy family friend, to serve until a January 2010 special election that was won by Republican Scott Brown.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.