Theory: Lehigh Just Killed The Kennedy Plan

Scot Lehigh is one of the best. And I think he may have hit the nail precisely on the head in the scenario he has just outlined, in his column for the Friday Globe. Except that by writing it in the Globe, he may have ensured that it will never come to pass.

The scenario makes Vicki Kennedy the next Senator from Massachusetts -- first temporarily, then by election. More than one well-informed person I spoke with today theorized to me that they think this is a likely outcome of today's "Kennedy Plan" for succession, of which I blogged this morning. That is, the likely outcome if the Kennedy Plan becomes law. But it probably won't become law, according to these theorizers, because legislators are worried that it could end with Vicki Kennedy becoming the next Senator.

Here's my rough interpretation of what these theorizers suggest would happen.

A) The state passes a law giving the Governor power, in the event of a vacancy, to appoint a Senator to serve during the interim until the special election.

B) Some time passes, as Ted Kennedy attempts to stay healthy enough to vote for the health care bill himself, and the bill creeps its way through the remainder of the process.

C) In, say, late October or early November, with passage approaching, Kennedy accepts that he cannot travel to Washington. He announces his resignation.

D) Kennedy calls Patrick; Kerry; Obama; Biden; Harry Reid; Coakley; Lynch; whoever; saying that if he can't cast the vote himself he wants to have Vicki cast it for him.

E) Although Patrick may privately ask Vicki for some sort of vow to not run in the special election, she says nothing specific publicly about it. Nobody is likely to make a fuss given the situation -- especially since everyone knows that she didn't want to be Senator, she is only doing it out of obligation and duty.

F) Patrick appoints Vicki Kennedy as the interim Senator. It is greeted as an appropriate and touching gesture. Vicki (currently pretty much unknown in the state) instantly becomes our biggest, most popular political figure.

G) A "draft Vicki" campaign begins immediately. (Started by her people? Maybe. So what?)

H) At some point along this timeline, Ted Kennedy passes away.

I) Vicki announces that she's running for the special election in the Spring. Other candidates shy away from running against the popular widow, or if they try, she wins.

Plausible, no?

Except that it's the last thing most state legislators want. For one thing, most of them have candidates they intend to back in that Senate race. And half of them think they'll be able to run for an office (like AG, or Congress) that will be opened up by whoever wins the Senate race -- or for an office opened up by the person who wins that race.

The bottom line is, I think the Kennedy Plan legislation is a tough sell to begin with, for reasons I discussed in that earlier post. But it's a really tough sell if they think that Vicki will try to use the law to maneuver into that seat.

Which is why the following, from Lehigh's column, looks like the seed being planted -- and when the lege sees it, I think it's going to spook them into killing that seed before it gets a chance to grow:

Who might such an appointee be? Vicki Kennedy is one oft-mentioned name. Confidants of Mrs. Kennedy have said she has no interest in serving either as an interim senator or as a candidate to replace her husband. No doubt it’s hard to consider any of that with her husband battling brain cancer. Still, she would be a fine choice as an interim figure.

That said, Mrs. Kennedy, who is smart and well-liked in political circles, and who has been not just Kennedy’s wife but his political partner as well, would also be an attractive candidate to succeed her husband on a longer-term basis. The view here is that she shouldn’t prematurely foreclose that possibility.

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