An interesting bit of legislative history in today's big Boston Globe scoop about Ted Kennedy's ongoing efforts to make sure that his seat doesn't remain vacant for any period of time should he be unable to complete his term:
Massachusetts governors used to have the power to fill Senate vacancies, as happens in many other states, until the Legislature made the change five years ago.
Democratic lawmakers, then as now in the majority, did not want to give Governor Mitt Romney the chance to fill Kerry’s seat with a Republican if Kerry won the presidency.
I think there's a good lesson here about legislative bodies being careful not to muck around with these sorts of rules for short-term political gain. Now, obviously, that lesson would seem to suggest that the legislature not mess with the rule as it now exists--that the seat remain vacant until a special election is held to fill it within five months--except that rule seems really stupid. Kennedy's proposal--have the governor appoint an interim Senator who pledges not to run in the special election--seems exceedingly sensible.