Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has named his former chief of staff, lawyer William “Mo” Cowan (shown), as Democrat John Kerry's temporary replacement in the U.S. Senate. Cowan will serve until a June 25 special election, required by Massachusetts law. (Getty Images)
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has named his former chief of staff, lawyer William “Mo” Cowan, as Democrat John Kerry’s temporary replacement in the U.S. Senate.
Cowan will serve until a June 25 special election, required by Massachusetts law.
Cowan, 43, is a longtime aide and friend to Patrick, serving as chief legal counsel before becoming the governor’s chief of staff. He left the governor’s office in November. Cowan is married and has two young sons.
Patrick had said he would appoint a caretaker who would not run for the Senate seat in the special election. “I am not running for office,” Cowan said at the news conference announcing his appointment.
Patrick had suggested he wanted to appoint a person of color to the seat. “The Commonwealth and the country are changing,” he said Wednesday morning. “The breadth of diversity of background and ethnicity and race is deeper and broader than ever. I have known for a long time and believed for a long time that there is talent in every community in the Commonwealth.”
Cowan is the first black senator from Massachusetts since Edward Brooke, a Republican, who left office in 1979. He becomes the second African American currently serving in the Senate, joining Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina, who also was appointed.
Kerry was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday as the next secretary of State, and he will make his farewell address on the Senate floor Wednesday. His resignation becomes effective on Friday afternoon.
Cowan’s appointment kicks off the race to succeed him in June. Rep. Ed Markey, a Democrat, is the only declared candidate. Former senator Scott Brown, the Republican ousted in November by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, has not yet said whether he will run. It would be his third Senate run in less than four years.
Whoever is elected in June will then have to run for a full six-year term in 2014.