John Kerry departure leads to racial milestone in the Senate

William "Mo" Cowan during a news conference where he was named interim U.S. Senator for the seat vacated with the resignation of U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. William "Mo" Cowan during a news conference where he was named interim U.S. Senator for the seat vacated with the resignation of U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Charles Krupa/AP

John Kerry's departure from the Senate to head the State Department has led to an historic moment in the Senate. For the first time, the upper chamber has two African-American senators.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appointed his former chief of staff, William "Mo" Cowan, to fill Kerry’s seat until June’s special election. Patrick had previously said it was a “priority” to appoint a woman or person of color for the interim seat.

Senate appointments are responsible for this milestone in the chamber's history. The Senate’s other black member is South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, who was appointed to fill former Sen. Jim DeMint’s seat after he departed to become president of the Heritage Foundation.

Scott is up for election in 2014, and he is heavily favored to win. Former South Carolina GOP Chair Katon Dawson predicts Scott won’t face a primary challenger. “Tim Scott is a modern-day legend in South Carolina. What a powerful story of success and political success, taking chances and taking risks,” Dawson told National Journal.

As for Cowan, don’t expect to see him in the Senate for long; he’s said he has no interest in running for office, and that he’s not a “candidate today or any time in the future.”

After June, Democrats will once again be without any black senators, and just two senators who are members of racial minority groups — New Jersey's Robert Menendez and Hawaii's Mazie Hirono. That could change if Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is black, is successful in his 2014 Senate campaign to represent New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Republicans have Scott, along with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

When asked about this demographic milestone in the Senate — and whether such markers are as important as they once were — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said: “I’m always glad to see more diversity in the United States Senate.”

“When I got to the House, it had very few African-Americans, and when I left, [African-Americans were] close to 10 percent of America, which was about the population,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “So I hope that trend continues into the Senate.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.