Updated 1:35 p.m. ET
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is tapping his former chief of staff, William "Mo" Cowan, to replace John Kerry in the Senate until a special election in June.
Cowan, a 43-year-old attorney, left Patrick's office in November 2012 and was expected to return to the private sector. In a statement, Patrick said Cowan served Massachusetts with wisdom and good judgment and will do so again in the Senate.
"Mo's service on the front lines in our efforts to manage through the worst economy in 80 years and build a better, stronger Commonwealth for the next generation has earned him the respect and admiration of people throughout government," he said in a statement.
During his brief stint as a senator, Cowan will participate in consequential debates about raising the debt limit, the so-called "sequestration" spending cuts and the federal budget.
Kerry, who represented Massachusetts in the Senate for 28 years, wasyesterday, with near-unanimous support in the Senate. He will be sworn in as secretary on Friday by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, CBS News State Department Correspondent Margaret Brennan reports. The special election to replace Kerry in the Senate will take place on June 25, with the primary set for April 30.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is the only candidate to have formally entered the race, but Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., is expected to announce his candidacy on Thursday, the Associated Press reports, when he starts a statewide tour. Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who was ousted in November by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, is also "leaning strongly" towards running, GOP officials close to Brown told the AP.
For now, Cowan joins Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in the Senate as the only African-Americans in the legislative body. This is the first time two African-Americans have served in the Senate at the same time. Scott was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C., in December after Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., announced his resignation.