Replace me quickly, says Kennedy

BOSTON - A cancer-stricken senator Edward Kennedy has written a poignant letter to leaders in his home state of Massachusetts, asking that they change state law to allow his speedy replacement in congress.

BOSTON - A cancer-stricken senator Edward Kennedy has written a poignant letter to leaders in his home state of Massachusetts, asking that they change state law to allow his speedy replacement in congress.

The letter was sent to Governor Deval Patrick, the state's senate president and also the house speaker this week, at a time when congress is considering an overhaul of the US healthcare system, a life cause of Kennedy's.

The letter acknowledges the state changed its succession law in 2004 to require a special election within five months to fill any vacancy.

But Kennedy writes: "It is vital for this commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election."

Each state is represented by two senators. While Democrats hold a majority in congress, the outcome of a healthcare reform bill could hinge on a single vote.

Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in May 2008. His absence from last week's funeral for his sister, Eunice Shriver, prompted a flurry of questions about the senator's own health. - Sapa-AP

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