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Ailing Senator Ted Kennedy Writes Letter Urging His Seat Be Filled Quickly

Aug. 20 2009, Published 12:09 p.m. ET

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Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy -- who’s been battling a malignant brain tumor for more than a year now -- has privately sent a letter to state officials urging them to change succession rules to ensure that the state still has two Senate votes if a seat becomes vacant.

In the letter -- sent to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and other key legislative leaders -- Kennedy asks them to change the law to allow the governor to quickly appoint someone to the seat temporarily, prior to a special election.

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The letter acknowledges the state changed its succession law in 2004 to require a special election within five months to fill any vacancy. At the time, legislative Democrats were concerned then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney would be able to fill any vacancy created as Democratic Sen. John Kerry ran for president.

"I strongly support that law and the principle that the people should elect their senator,'' Kennedy wrote. "I also believe it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election.''

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To ensure that the special election is fair, Sen. Kennedy urged that the appointee cannot seek the office on a permanent basis.

The letter does not specifically mention his battle with brain cancer or impending health care legislation, a project close to Kennedy’s heart.

The letter was sent Tuesday, but Kennedy aides insist there is no material change in his condition since he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May of 2008.

Kennedy's absence from last week's funeral for his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, prompted new questions about his own health.



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