Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday named William "Mo" Cowan, a former top aide, to serve as interim U.S. senator for Massachusetts until a June 25 special election is held to fill the seat left vacant by John Kerry's confirmation as secretary of state.
Patrick formally announced his selection at a State House news conference, calling Cowan a trusted adviser and friend who has earned the respect of people throughout government.
"Mo has an extraordinary ability to bring people together and get to the root of the problem quickly and identify a solution so, on any range of issues, I think that that will serve him very, very, very well," Patrick said.
The 43-year-old Cowan said he was humbled by the appointment. He stepped down as the governor's chief of staff last month after previously serving as chief legal counsel.
"Working with and indeed learning from our congressional delegation and President Obama, I know I can move forward the interests of this great state during this temporary period and I look forward to this honored service," Cowan said.
Cowan says he has no plans to run for any public office in the future and would return to the private sector after his interim appointment.
The North Carolina native will be the state's second African-American U.S. senator. Edward Brooke served from 1967-1979.
Barney Frank, the longtime congressman who recently retired, had asked Patrick for the interim appointment. Following Cowan's appointment, Frank said in a statement:
I know Mr. Cowan is committed to working hard and in socially-fair and economically-efficient manner toward resolving pending budget issues.
I now look forward to working for the election of [current U.S. Rep.] Ed Markey to continue this work, and to providing President Obama the support he deserves in carrying out the mandate he received in November.
Cowan's appointment signals the official start of the special election race. The winner will serve out the remainder of Kerry's term and would face another election in November 2014.
So far the only announced candidate is Markey, a Democrat from Malden. Fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, of Boston, also is weighing a run and is expected to formally announce his candidacy on Thursday.
Republican officials close to Scott Brown said Tuesday that the former senator is "leaning strongly" toward running and could make an announcement early next week. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share internal discussions.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This article was originally published on January 30, 2013.