Paul G. Kirk: Wikis


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Paul G. Kirk, Jr.

In office
September 24, 2009 – February 4, 2010
Preceded by Ted Kennedy
Succeeded by Scott Brown

39th Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
In office
Preceded by Charles T. Manatt
Succeeded by Ron Brown

In office
Preceded by Charles Curry
Succeeded by Sharon Pratt Dixon

Born January 18, 1938 (1938-01-18) (age 72)
Newton, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Gail Kirk
Residence Marstons Mills, Massachusetts
Alma mater Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Harvard University (A.B.)
Profession Attorney
Religion Roman Catholic

Paul Grattan Kirk, Jr. (born January 18, 1938) is an American politician and lawyer who served as a United States Senator from Massachusetts from 2009 to 2010, having been appointed to fill the vacancy created by the death of Ted Kennedy. From 1985 to 1989, he served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). He has also served as the co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the chairman of the board of directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation,[1] and a member of the board of directors of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.[2]


Education and family

Kirk is one of the five children of Judge Paul Grattan Kirk, Sr., an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts,[3] and Josephine E. O'Connell. He attended The Roxbury Latin School and graduated from St. Sebastian's School in 1956, Harvard College in 1960, and Harvard Law School in 1964, and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1965.[4] In 1974, he married Gail Loudermilk. The couple has no children. They reside in Marstons Mills Village, Barnstable County, Massachusetts.[1] Kirk is a great-nephew of the late William Cardinal O'Connell.[5][6]

Board memberships and company affiliations

Kirk is affiliated with the law firm Sullivan & Worcester LLP of Boston, Massachusetts and was a partner from 1977 to 1990.[1] He is the chairman and chief executive officer of Kirk & Associates, Inc., a business advisory and consulting firm located in Boston.[1] Kirk is a member of the Board of Directors of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Rayonier, Incorporated, and Cedar Shopping Centers, Inc. He was a board member of ITT Corporation from 1989 to 1997 and Bradley Real Estate, Inc. from 1991 to 2000.[1] Kirk is a trustee of Stonehill College. He also served as a trustee of St. Sebastian's School from 1992 to 2004 and again from 2006 to 2009. He is past chairman of the Harvard Board of Overseers Nominating Committee and is the chairman of the Harvard Overseers Committee to Visit the Department of Athletics.[1]

From 1992 to 2001 Kirk was the chairman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.[1]

Political career

Kirk with his predecessor, Senator Ted Kennedy

Kirk was a special assistant to Senator Ted Kennedy from 1969 to 1977. In 1983, he became treasurer of the national Democratic Party.[1]

In 1985, Kirk was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee despite opposition from Virginia Governor Chuck Robb and a group of southern state Democrats who went on to form the Democratic Leadership Council.[7] He caused a brief stir when he suggested means testing for Social Security, but he quickly withdrew his remarks.[8] In the 1986 mid-term elections, under Kirk's chairmanship, the Democrats regained control of the Senate, which had had a Republican majority since the 1980 elections. Kirk resigned shortly after Republican Vice President George H. W. Bush's victory over Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in the 1988 Presidential Election.[citation needed] He was succeeded as DNC chairman by Ron Brown.[citation needed]

On May 2, 2008, Paul Kirk formally pledged his superdelegate nomination vote in the summer 2008 national Democratic convention to Barack Obama.[9]


Appointment as senator

In August 2009, Senator Ted Kennedy died, leaving a vacancy in the Massachusetts Senate delegation. In 2004, the Massachusetts General Court had withdrawn the authority of the governor to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy by appointment, to prevent the then-Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, from appointing a Republican to fill the remainder of Democrat John Kerry's Senate term, if Kerry were to win the 2004 presidential election. The legislation was enacted over Romney's veto.[10][11][12][13][14] At that time, Senator Ted Kennedy successfully made personal appeals to Massachusetts Democratic legislative leaders to pass the bill, which had been stalled prior to his request.[15] The new law called for a special election months later to fill the vacancy. However, Kennedy's death denied Democrats in the U.S. Senate the 60-vote supermajority required to end filibusters. Given the urgency of and narrow partisan support for some legislation before Congress, most notably health care reform, Democratic lawmakers and liberal pundits called for an interim senator to be appointed so that Massachusetts would have full Senate representation until the special election; Kennedy himself had requested such a change before he died. In September, the General Court passed legislation restoring the governor's power to make interim appointments to serve until the special election stipulated in the earlier legislation is held, over multiple bipartisan concerns of hypocrisy.[16][17][18][19][20] Kennedy's two sons, Patrick J. Kennedy and Edward Kennedy, Jr.,[21] and his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy,[22] had all expressed their preference for Kirk. Kirk was sworn in to office on September 25, 2009.[23] On September 23, 2009, several national media organizations reported that Kirk was favored by the family of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to be the senator's interim replacement, and that the family had communicated their preference to Governor Deval Patrick.[24][25][26] Governor Patrick announced Kirk's appointment the next day.[4][24][27][28] Kirk pledged he would not be a candidate in the special election, which was won by Republican] Scott Brown.[29][30]

On September 24, 2009, members of the Massachusetts Republican Party filed suit seeking to block the appointment of Kirk, saying that under commonwealth law, the law giving Gov. Patrick the right to appoint Kirk should not take effect for 90 days. A hearing was scheduled for the morning of September 25 to resolve the issue.[31] A Suffolk Superior Court judge dismissed the case the same day, and Kirk took the oath of office as Senator that afternoon.[32][33]

On January 19, 2010, state senator Scott Brown, a Republican, was elected to serve the balance of Kennedy's term. Although some Republican pundits questioned whether Kirk's term should end on election day,[34] he continued to sit, and voted on the Senate floor on January 20, 2010,[35] without any objection from Senate staff or Senate Republicans. This situation is analogous to 1993, when Kay Bailey Hutchison was elected on June 5, but Bob Krueger continued to hold the seat until she took the oath of office on June 14.[36][37] Kirk was present at his successor's swearing in ceremony on February, 4, 2010.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Paul G. Kirk, Jr., Chairman". John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. (undated). Retrieved September 24, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Kirk's the keeper". 
  3. ^ Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court website
  4. ^ a b Fletcher, Dan (September 24, 2009). "Paul Kirk, Jr.: Kennedy's Possible Replacement". Time. 
  5. ^ "Remains of Cardinal O'Connell could be relocated". 
  6. ^ Michael Paulson (September 24, 2009). "Family ties: Kirk is heir to Boston cardinal". The Boston Globe. 
  7. ^ Rae, Nicol C. (1994). Southern Democrats. Oxford University Press. p. 113. ISBN 0195087097. 
  8. ^ Love, Keith; Karen Tumulty (1985-04-18). "Top Democrat Stirs Fuss on Social Security". Los Angeles Times. 
  9. ^ Salant, Jonathan D. Former Democratic Party Leader Paul Kirk Backs Obama Bloomberg, May 2, 2008
  10. ^ "Chapter 236 of the Acts of 2004". Acts of 2004 (Session Laws). The General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. July 30, 2004. Retrieved May 21, 2008. 
  11. ^ Belluck, Pam (June 25, 2004). "Massachusetts Politicians Fight Over a Kerry Victory". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2008. 
  12. ^ Zezima, Katie (July 2, 2004). "National Briefing: Massachusetts: Senate Approves Interim-Appointment Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2008. 
  13. ^ Greenberger, Scott S. (July 31, 2004). "Romney veto overridden: Governor can no longer fill vacancies in the US Senate". The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 21, 2008. 
  14. ^ Anderson, Rob (July 16, 2004). "Devil in the Details: After Kerry, The Deluge". The American Prospect. Retrieved May 21, 2008. 
  15. ^ Phillips, Frank (June 11, 2004). "Special election bill gets new life: Voters would pick successor to Kerry". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  16. ^ Viser, Matt; Phillips, Frank (September 24, 2009). "Kirk named interim senator". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 24, 2009. 
  17. ^ Viser, Matt (September 17, 2009). "Mass. House approves bill that would fill Kennedy seat". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 19, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Massachusetts Senate clears way for Kennedy replacement". CNN Political Ticker (Cable News Network). September 22, 2009. Retrieved September 22, 2009. 
  19. ^ Viser, Matt (September 23, 2009). "Legislature gives final approval to bill to fill Kennedy seat". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 23, 200. 
  20. ^ Cillizza, Chris (September 9, 2009). "Kerry Pledges Support For Mass.-Senate Appointee". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 10, 2009. 
  21. ^ Viser, Matt (September 23, 2009). "Senate OK's Kennedy successor bill". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 24, 2009. 
  22. ^ Viser, Matt (September 23, 2009). "All eyes turn to Patrick as he mulls appointee for Kennedy seat". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 24, 2009. 
  23. ^ Johnson, Glen (September 24, 2009). "Former DNC head Kirk tapped to replace Kennedy". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved September 24, 2009. 
  24. ^ a b Goddnough, Abby; Carl Hulse (September 23, 2009). "Kennedy Confidant Expected to Take Senate Seat". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2009. 
  25. ^ "Senate OK's Kennedy successor bill" The Boston Globe, September 23, 2009
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Paul Kirk Tapped For Kennedy Senate Seat". The Huffington Post. September 23, 2009. Retrieved September 23, 2009. 
  28. ^ Phillips, Kate (September 24, 2009). "Kennedy Seat Appointment Is Imminent". The New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2009. 
  29. ^ O'Sullivan (September 24, 2009). "Patrick circulates 'talking points' on interim Snate appointee". State House News Service. Retrieved September 234, 2009. 
  30. ^ Viser, Matt; Phillips, Frank (2009-09-24). "Kirk named interim senator". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  31. ^ GOP files suit to block Kirk
  32. ^ Ellement, John R., Ryan, Andrew (2009-09-25) "GOP fails to block Kirk swearing-in", The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2009-09-25.
  33. ^ Montopoli, Brian (September 25, 2009). "Paul Kirk Sworn In, Replaces Kennedy in Senate". Political Hotsheet (CBS News). Retrieved September 28, 2009. 
  34. ^ "Kirk Can't Vote after Tuesday" The Weekly Standard, Jan 16, 2010
  35. ^ Roll Call Vote 1, Second Session, 111th Congress
  36. ^ Congressional Biographical Directory: Robert Krueger
  37. ^ Congressional Biographical Directory: Kay Bailey Hutchison

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Charles Taylor Manatt
Democratic National Committee Chairman
1985 – 1989
Succeeded by
Ron Brown
United States Senate
Preceded by
Ted Kennedy
United States Senator (Class 1) from Massachusetts
2009 – 2010
Served alongside: John Kerry
Succeeded by
Scott Brown


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