Talk of Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren as a possible running mate for presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is throwing a fresh spotlight on Massachusetts’ process for filling an empty Senate seat. Warren is in the fourth year of her first six-year term and if she is elected vice president, she would be leaving her seat vacant in a year when Democrats are hoping to retake the Senate. It would also spark the state’s third special election for a Senate seat since the death in 2009 of Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy after 47 years in office. Before his death, Kennedy sent a letter to state lawmakers urging they change the special election law to let the governor — then Democrat Deval Patrick — name an interim appointment to the seat while a special election was held.
… By law, Baker would have to call a special election within 145 to 160 days of the date the vacancy occurs. That would mean Baker could appoint a Republican to hold the seat for the first few months of a potential Clinton administration.
Also, a Baker appointee could run for the seat permanently — something Kirk and Cowan pledged not to do — and perhaps use the temporary incumbency to gain a slight leg up on a Democratic opponent.