Hatch, Dodd back Vicki Kennedy appointment to replace husband

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said on Sunday that Vicki Kennedy should be considered to replace her late husband in the Senate.

Hatch, one of Kennedy's closest friends in the Senate, said on CNN's State of the Union that Vicki Kennedy is well-qualified to serve, even if only until a January special election to fill the rest of the term.

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"I think Vicki ought to be considered. She's a very brilliant lawyer. She's a very solid individual. She certainly made a difference in Ted's life, let me tell you. And I have nothing but great respect for her," Hatch said on CNN.

Another close friend of Kennedy, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), acknowledged that Vicki Kennedy has not expressed much interest in filling in for her husband, but said he would support her next step.

"Whatever Vicki wants to do, I'm in her corner," Dodd said on State of the Union. "She knows that. And she's expressed to me her own sort of reluctance to [fill in for Kennedy], but she could change her mind. If she did, I'm for it. I think she'd be great."

"She brings talent and ability to it, and to fill that spot I think is something the people of Massachusetts would welcome. We could certainly use her in the Senate," Dodd said. "But I leave that up to her. She's got a lot on her mind right now, and frankly, I'll leave it up to her decision-making process."

Massachusetts lawmakers, spurred by a letter from Kennedy himself, have begun discussing new legislation that would allow Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to appoint a temporary replacement to serve until an election. State law passed when Gov. Mitt Romney (R) was in office took the power to appoint a replacement away from the Republican when Sen. John Kerry (D) appeared in strong position to win the presidency.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin (D) has given Patrick the option of setting the election Jan. 19 or Jan. 26. In the meantime, Patrick has voiced support for an interim replacement, and after initially opposing the plan, legislators are slowly getting on board.

Without a replacement, Democrats would have 59 seats in the Senate until mid-January, giving Republicans the opportunity to filibuster their agenda.