(CN) – Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Paul G. Kirk Jr., a former aide and longtime friend of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, to fill Kennedy’s seat in the Senate.
Kirk is scheduled to take be sworn in on Friday and serve until a Jan. 19 special election, in which Kirk has vowed not to run.
President Barack Obama described Kirk as “a distinguished leader whose long collaboration with Senator Kennedy makes him an excellent interim choice to carry on his work until the voters make their choice in January.”
After Kennedy died of brain cancer last month, the state Legislature moved quickly to pass a bill allowing Patrick to name an interim successor.
The Massachusetts Republican Party asked the Suffolk Superior Court to block Kirk from filling the seat, arguing that the new law had been unconstitutionally rushed through and put into effect immediately.
The seat vacated by Kennedy has garnered national interest, as Patrick’s appointment could help Democrats get the 60th vote needed to pass health-care legislation.
Kirk, 71, is the chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in Boston.