Former Democratic Party Chairman Kirk Tapped to Replace Kennedy

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>Kirk also co-founded the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has sponsored every presidential and vice presidential debate involving major candidates since 1988.

The Massachusetts Legislature laid the groundwork Wednesday for the announcement, when, after a contentious debate and a whirl of parliamentary maneuvering, it approved a bill allowing the governor to make an interim appointment.

Some fellow Democrats have joined Republicans in accusing Patrick of a power grab, but the governor said he was unfazed by the criticism.

"I'm quite satisfied that I am both within the law and within tradition," he said.