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It appears increasingly inevitable that the Massachusetts state legislature will give Gov. Deval Patrick the power to appoint a temporary successor to the late Senator Edward Kennedy. And speculation is rampant as to who will be picked. So PaperTrail decided to peak behind the veil and take a look at some of the political activities and contributions of the two leading candidates.

Though former governor (and Democratic presidential contender) Michael Dukakis had the early buzz, speculation is now centering on former DNC Chairman Paul Kirk Jr.

Kirk, a retired partner in the Boston office of the Sullivan & Worcester law firm and chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, is perhaps best known as the co-founder and co-chairman of the controversial Commission on Presidential Debates. The Center reported last year that the Commission is a corporate-funded, party-created entity with unilateral power to decide which presidential candidates may participate in the general election debates and which ones may not. Its funders have included Anheuser-Busch and Philip Morris.

According to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance, Dukakis (now a professor at Northeastern University) donated $500 to Patrick’s campaign in 2006. The former governor’s wife Katherine and son John also contributed similar amounts. The same records do not indicate any campaign contributions to Patrick from Kirk.

Ultimately, the decision will rest with Patrick alone, but compared to Florida Senator George LeMieux, the “$3,335.60 Senator,” Kirk could be the very rare $0 Senator.

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