Friend to take Ted Kennedy's seat

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Paul Kirk, a former Democratic National Committee chairman and a friend of the late senator Edward Kennedy, was named as Senator Kennedy's temporary replacement in the US Senate.

Mr Kirk will fill the seat until voters in Massachusetts elect a permanent replacement in January. His appointment will restore a 60-seat Senate majority for the Democrats that could help President Barack Obama's push to overhaul healthcare.

Lawmakers passed legislation in the past few days allowing the Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, to name an interim senator, a move which Senator Kennedy had advocated before he died in August. The move angered Republicans and some Democrats who deemed it a hypocritical reversal of a law the Democrats passed in 2004 to stop a Republican governor naming a replacement for John Kerry if he had won that year's presidential election.

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