Massachusetts gov Deval Patrick appoints African-American Mo Cowan to John Kerry’s Senate seat

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A top Democratic aide has confirmed to NBC News that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will appoint his former chief of staff, William “Mo” Cowan, to be the interim pick to fill the state’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.

According to to the Boston Globe, “Cowan is a North Carolina native and Duke University graduate who came to Boston to attend Northeastern University Law School in the early 1990s — and never left the region. One of the city’s leading African-American lawyers, Cowan is a former partner in the politically connected law firm of Mintz Levin.”

The Globe also reports that “Patrick and Cowan built up a strong friendship over the years, in part, because both men have risen from difficult childhoods to prominence in Boston and in the state. Patrick also served as a mentor to Cowan when both were practicing lawyers.”

“Mo’s service on the front lines in our efforts to manage through the worst economy in 80 years and build a better, stronger Commonwealth for the next generation has earned him the respect and admiration of people throughout government,” Patrick said in a statement. “The people of the Commonwealth have benefited from his wisdom and good judgment during his time in our office, and will again in the Senate.”

Cowan is the second African-American to represent the state of Massachusetts in the Senate. Republican Ed Brooke was the first; he served from 1967 to 1979.

Once Sen. John Kerry was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton for Secretary of State, there was widespread speculation about who Gov. Patrick would appoint to replace him.

Some even speculated that he might select himself.

Retired congressman Barney Frank made no secret about his desire to fill the seat as a placeholder until a special election is held this June to fill that seat for the remainder of Kerry’s term.

“I’m very well suited to do it,” Frank said earlier this month. “You’re not going to have a long period to get acquainted with things.”

Kerry was nearly unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate yesterday to lead the State Department under Obama.

Republican Scott Brown, who lost his bid for re-election to the Senate this past November, has indicated that he may run again this summer.

Recent polls have shown him leading several potential Democratic contenders, including Patrick.