MA Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has tapped his former chief of staff, William "Mo" Cowan, to be a short-term senator. Cowan will fill John Kerry's seat until a special election is held in June, and will be the second African-American in the Senate, along with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).
Kerry has held the seat for 28 years, and is departing the Senate to become secretary of state. He was confirmed overwhelmingly Tuesday to succeed Hillary Clinton as America's top diplomat.
The Cowan appointment dashes the senatorial hopes of former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). The outspoken liberal publicly lobbied for the appointment, despite just having left the House a month ago, after serving 32 years. MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell used his nighttime television show to advocate for Frank repeatedly - to no avail.
Cowan's appointment brings a certain sense of history. Tweeted historian Michael @BeschlossDC: "Growing trend of former aides as interim Senators? Biden ex-aide Ted Kaufman, Ted Kennedy ex-aide Paul Kirk, Patrick aide Mo Cowan."
And Slate's David Weigel (@daveweigel) observed, "Tim Scott, Mo Cowan: First time the Senate will have more than one black member simultaneously since the 19th century."