I suppose that Lawrence O’Donnell will be disappointed, and I admit that I, too, liked the idea of Barney Frank as a senator. But Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick chose to appoint his former legal counsel and chief of staff, William ‘Mo’ Cowan to serve as an interim replacement for John Kerry. This is the first I have ever heard of Mr. Cowan. The most newsworthy aspect of the appointment is that Cowan is an African-American, and the Senate will now have two black senators for the first time in its history. The Boston Globe has some good biographical information on Mr. Cowan.

Cowan, 43, was first hired by Patrick as his legal counsel in 2009 and was then promoted to chief of staff in 2010. Last November, Cowan stepped down from the $144,000 a year job.

Cowan is a North Carolina native and Duke University graduate who came to Boston to attend Northeastern University Law School in the early 1990s – and never left the region. One of the city’s leading African-American lawyers, Cowan is a former partner in the politically connected law firm of Mintz Levin…

…Cowan is a native of Yadkinville, N.C., a town of 2,200 about 25 miles west of Winston-Salem, where he grew up on a street full of family. Cowan’s father died when he was 16 years old, leaving his mother to raise him and his two sisters on little more than a minimum wage.

He was the first from his high school, Forbush High School, to attend Duke, one of the nation’s premier colleges.

It certainly is a feel-good story. I wish Mr. Cowan luck. He will serve until Massachusetts elects a permanent replacement in June. On the Democratic side, it looks like there will be a primary between Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey. Scott Brown says he is leaning towards running again, and polls currently give him encouragement. It will be a tremendous shame if anyone other than Markey wins the seat.

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