Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., will not seek the U.S. Senate seat left open by Edward M. Kennedy’s death, he told WBUR in an interview Wednesday.
“I will absolutely not be a candidate for that seat,” Frank said. The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said he is “deeply engaged in trying to get the financial system changed” to prevent another economic crisis. “It would be irresponsible for me to abandon that for a political campaign during the next few months, when it’s critical for us to act.”
The congressman said he would, however, have sought a U.S. Senate seat in 2004, had Massachusetts Junior Sen. John Kerry won his bid for president. “I was then a member of the Democratic minority in the House, we didn’t have much influence,” Frank said.
Sen. Kennedy, who represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate for 46 years, died at home in Hyannisport on Tuesday night at 77.
Massachusetts law requires a special election for the seat no sooner than 145 days and no later than 160 days after a vacancy occurs. The law bans an interim appointee.
However, Gov. Deval Patrick is seeking to change the law to allow him to appoint an interim successor, he told WBUR in an interview Wednesday.
Kennedy had last week asked Massachusetts lawmakers to give Patrick that ability if the senator were unable to continue serving.
“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,” Patrick said. “I think particularly now when you think about the momentous change legislation that is pending in the Congress today, Massachusetts needs two voices. ”
Legislative leaders have not said whether they support the proposal.