Barney Frank Senate Petition Push Appears for Naught

Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Representative Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte.

A petition drive aimed at nudging Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to  put the ever-fiesty Barney Frank temporarily into the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry’s confirmation as secretary of state ended up collecting close to 10,000 signatures — and won’t be submitted.

John F. Kelley, the Massachusetts resident who launched the petition push with the help of the MoveOn.org liberal advocacy group, gave us an update today on the signatures, but also said he had been advised recently by an aide to Frank, who last year didn’t seek re-election after 32 years in the House, not to pass it along to the Patrick’s office.

Patrick, according to local press reports, didn’t care for Frank’s open declaration in early January that he wanted the governor to pick him, and Kelley said he was told it wouldn’t be “politically expedient” for him to turn in his petitions.

Kelley accepted the political setback with good grace, saying simply of his bid to help out Frank: “It was a valiant effort.”

The Boston Globe reported today that the leading contenders for the interim appointment, which Patrick, a Democrat, is expected to announce tomorrow, include a former top aide, William “Mo” Cowan, and Victoria ­Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

The newspaper said that Patrick, the nation’s second-ever black governor, “has suggested he will choose a woman or a person of color to reflect the changing face of politics in Massachusetts.”

Cowan, if he gets the seat, would be the sixth black to serve as a senator since the post-Civil War Reconstruction period ended in the late 1870s. And he would give the Senate two black members at the same time, joining South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, who earlier this month took over the seat that Jim DeMint gave up.

This burst (relatively speaking) of racial diversity in the Senate, if it happens, apparently would be short-lived. Patrick has indicated he will only select someone for the Kerry seat who won’t then seek it in a special election he plans to schedule for June 25.

Scott, named to his seat by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, will hold it for two years, under the state’s laws. He has said he will then run for it in a 2014 special election.

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