In nearly every state in the union, a replacement senator is chosen by the governor. And that’s the way it was in Massachusetts for more than a century … until 2004. What happened in 2004 is that the state had a Republican governor. And with John Kerry running for president, the Democrat-controlled legislature worried that Governor Mitt Romney would appoint a Republican to replace Kerry. So they passed a law that mandated a special election in 145 to 160 days.
With that in mind, I think it’s very important that Barney Frank ponder his wishes more judiciously.
“I understand how they feel out there, because when I came I felt the same way,” says Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Elected in 1992, she quickly introduced an amendment with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) to abolish the filibuster. Democrats controlled both the White House and Congress, so she figured it was time to move the progressive agenda forward.
In the very next election, they were wiped out by the 1994 Republican Revolution. Boxer says she was glad her effort failed.
“I wish we could do it for now, but having gone through a time when we were in the deep, deep minority and Newt Gingrich was repealing every law over there, were it not for the filibuster, we would have lost everything. This country would not look the way it looks today,” she says.