An election to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat left vacant by Sen. Edward Kennedy's death has been set by Gov. Deval Patrick (D).

The vote will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 19, the governor announced during a press conference this afternoon.

In the meantime, the governor said he hopes lawmakers will grant him the power to appoint a temporary replacement for the late Democratic senator, who first proposed the idea in the weeks before his death.

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"The Congress is debating some of the most historic legislation in decades bound to affect all," Patrick said. "I support the special election and the democratic process to fill the remaining two years of Sen. Kennedy's term, but I will continue to work with the legislature to authorize an interim appointment for five months until that special election happens. This is the only way to ensure the citizens of Massachusetts are represented."

Despite his endorsement, the governor acknowledged the fate of Kennedy's request ultimately rests with the state legislature, which is currently away on recess. Although House and Senate lawmakers agreed today to expedite hearings on the proposal, Patrick emphasized during the press conference that the bill's passage was all but certain.

"On the merits, the proposal seems to me reasonable and wise," Patrick said. "I hope the members of the legislature, regardless of party affiliation, will see that too, and consider utmost the needs of our citizens to be represented in Washington over the next five months."

Patrick would not provide additional specifics, adding that it was "too soon" to speculate on possible candidates for the post. But he did tell reporters he would seek a "personal assurance" from his appointee that he or she would not also run for reelection.

And when asked whether he was contemplating his own bid for the open Senate seat, Patrick jibed, "No, I've got a job, I've got my hands full with this."