Demonstrating a lack of understanding of the workings of Congress, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has named his Chief of Staff William “Mo” Cowan to fill John Kerry’s Senate seat until the special election on April 30. Retired Congressman Barney Frank had volunteered for the post and many people had supported Frank’s appointment. In the press conference announcing the appointment, Cowan said that he would be “ever mindful of what matters to the people of Massachusetts…” citing jobs, education and affordable health care.
Nice campaign platform, has very little to do with what is going on in Washington right now.
Okay, I’m prejudiced. It’s not a question of Barney Frank being gay or Mo Cowan being black…it’s about seniority in Washington. Vermont learned from our long-serving Senator George Aiken, Pat Leahy’s predecessor, that the longer a person from a small state is in Congress, the more they can withstand the power of those states that have 20 to 30 Representatives. Though Pat was elected directly to the Senate, our other Senator, Bernie Sanders, is the fourth in a line of Senators that we promoted from the House, dating back to 1959. Each of those men – Prouty, Stafford, Jeffords and Sanders – brought their experience, contacts, connections and seniority-power with them from the House to the Senate. It gave them a status in the Senate that a directly elected newbie wouldn’t have had. That’s why Barney Frank volunteered to fill Senator Kerry’s seat and why so many people supported him.
We are facing hard battles over things that Cowan didn’t even mention – the stalled implementation of Dodd-Frank, gun control measures and, most important of all, the looming sequestration. Barney would have hit the floor fully armed for battle. Cowan has to do too much on-the-job learning.
At this writing, there is only one announced candidate for the Senate seat – Representative Edward Markey. There is a rumor that another Congressman, Democrat Stephen Lynch of Boston, is going to announce a primary challenge to Markey, but former Senator Scott Brown has not officially entered the race on the Republican side.