BOSTON (AP) - Liberal groups have launched twin online petitions aimed atpressuring Gov. Deval Patrick to temporarily name former congressman BarneyFrank to U.S. Sen. John Kerry's seat if Kerry is confirmed as secretary ofstate.
Asked Thursday if the petitions will affect his decision, Patrick said thatit wouldn't and that everyone he's spoken to about the possible interimappointment is well qualified.
"Look, if I made the list public, you'd probably have a whole bunch ofpetitions because they're very, very able people," he said.
Frank's outspoken reputation has captured the imagination of liberal groups,however.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which helped raise money forDemocrat Elizabeth Warren during her successful Senate campaign, has launched anew website and online petition.
The petition points to potential cuts to Social Security, Medicare andMedicaid and says, "We can't afford to have our other senator be lukewarm,undecided, or uncertain."
"We need someone who we are 100 percent confident will fight rightalongside (Warren)," the petition adds.
The website SignOn.org, affiliated with the liberal activist groupMoveOn.org, which also raised money for Warren, has posted a similar petitionsaying, "We can't think of anyone who would do a better job over the nextfew months than Barney Frank."
"Barney will take on conservative Republicans in Congress who want tocut Social Security and Medicare and play politics with the full faith andcredit of the United States," the petition says.
Frank, who opted not to run for re-election after a 32-year career in theU.S. House, has taken the unusual step of publicly lobbying for the interimpost.
"I'm very well suited to do it," Frank said last week."You're not going to have a long period to get acquainted withthings."
Patrick confirmed that he was considering Frank and believed he would make a"great interim senator," but added that he has talked to other peopleabout the position as well.
If Kerry's nomination is confirmed, Patrick must appoint someone to fillKerry's seat until a special election is held. That special election would bescheduled for about five months after the Democrat's resignation.
It would be the third Senate election in Massachusetts since 2010.
Patrick has said he won't reveal his pick for interim senator until Kerry'sresignation is official. Kerry, who was nominated to the top diplomatic post byPresident Barack Obama, isn't expected to run into serious opposition from hisfellow senators during the confirmation process.
Others mentioned as possible interim senators include Michael Dukakis, theformer governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, and Victoria Kennedy,widow of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Patrick has declined to confirm any other conversations he might be havingwith potential candidates, saying those conversations are confidential.
"I promise you the person I send will be a person of judgment ...(with) a political sense of stewardship," Patrick said Thursday.
He decided to confirm that he had spoken with Frank after the longtimeDemocratic lawmaker went public with his interest.
If appointed to the seat, Frank lists among his priorities cutting militaryspending, ending military operations in Afghanistan and encouraging"mainstream Republicans to break with the tea party."
Patrick has made it clear that he planned to choose an interim senator whowasn't interested in running in the special election. The winner of that racewould serve out the remainder of Kerry's term, which ends after the 2014election.
Patrick also said Thursday that he likes the idea of a contested Democraticprimary in the anticipated special Senate election and expects more Democraticcandidates to enter the race.
So far, congressman Ed Markey is the only announced Democratic candidate.Other possible Democratic candidates include U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano andStephen Lynch and state Rep. Ben Downing.
Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is weighing a run on the Republican side.