Sen. Edward Kennedy
Bruce Cotler/Globe Photos
08/20/2009 at 09:00 AM EDT
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who last year was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor
, has privately requested that the Massachusetts governor and legislative leaders be ready to appoint a successor should his seat suddenly become vacant.
Without specifically mentioning his illness, Kennedy, 77, wrote Governor Deval L. Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo to say, "I am now writing to you about an issue that concerns me deeply, the continuity of representation for Massachusetts, should a vacancy occur." An election to fill the vacant seat would take months, the senator notes in his message.
Kennedy's move is being seen as "a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate," reports the Boston Globe
Last week, Kennedy lost his elder sister
. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was 88.
– Stephen M. Silverman