William “Mo” Cowan, center, flanked by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, left, and Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, right, gestures as he speaks during a news conference at the Statehouse in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, where he was named interim U.S. Senator for the seat vacated with the resignation of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. who will become secretary of state. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
BOSTON (AP) — As Massachusetts’ newest U.S. senator settles into his temporary job in the post previously held by Democrat John Kerry, attention is turning to a special election this summer when voters will pick Kerry’s successor.
Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick appointed William “Mo” Cowan, his former chief of staff, on Wednesday to serve until June in the post left vacant by Kerry’s confirmation as the nation’s next secretary of state.
Given Congress’ “fiscal cliff” agreement Jan. 1 and automatic spending cuts expected in March, Cowan said he backed a balanced approach to the nation’s money problems that include some cuts and new revenues.
“I don’t think anyone believes it’s in the best interests to do straight across-the-board cuts,” Cowan said, adding that such cuts would have “significant impact” on Massachusetts.
Some of the cuts could target grants to the state’s highly regarded universities and research facilities.
Cowan will hold the office until voters decide June 25 on Kerry’s successor. Already the race to fill Kerry’s seat is shaping up.
Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who lost his Republican re-election bid to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren in November, is “leaning strongly” toward running in the special election, according to Republican officials. They spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share internal discussions.
Democratic Congressman Edward Markey of Malden has announced he’s running for the seat, and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch of Boston, also a Democrat, is expected to announce his candidacy during a tour Thursday of the state. Kerry is among several leading Democrats who are backing Markey.
Cowan, 43, stepped down last month as chief of staff, a post he assumed in 2010 after previously serving as Patrick’s chief legal counsel.
Patrick lauded Cowan for helping manage the state through the recession, and said Cowan had earned the respect of people throughout government.
“In every step, he has brought preparation, perspective, wisdom, sound judgment and clarity of purpose,” Patrick said in announcing Cowan’s appointment at a Statehouse news conference.
Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray said the affable Cowan — who eschewed his trademark bowtie for the announcement in favor of a traditional suit and necktie — also brings a certain amount of “cool” to the job.