Unless the Legislature changes the law allowing Patrick to name an interim replacement, Massachusetts would have only one representative in the U.S. Senate until a special election could be held at least five months from now, The Boston Globe reported.
But Republicans are crying foul.
Massachusetts governors were allowed to appoint interim senators until 2004, when Democrats in the Legislature killed that authority to prevent the possibility Republican Gov. Mitt Romney would have a chance to appoint a GOP successor had Sen. John Kerry been elected president.
Legislative leaders have not said whether they would support a change in the law.
"I believe that the senator's request to permit the governor to appoint someone to serve for that five months until a special election was entirely reasonable," the Globe reported Patrick as telling WBUR-FM. "I think particularly now when you think about the momentous change legislation that is pending in the Congress today, Massachusetts needs two voices."
Kennedy died at his Hyannis Port, Mass., home Tuesday night. Under present law, a special election would have to be held in 145 days to 160 days.
But in a letter last week, Kennedy pleaded with legislative leaders to make a temporary appointment possible so Massachusetts keeps two votes in the Senate when that body is dealing with critical legislation.
The Globe said the proposal drew a firestorm of criticism from Republicans in the state and in Washington.