- Associated Press - Thursday, January 10, 2013

BOSTON — Liberal groups have launched twin online petitions aimed at pressuring Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to temporarily name former Rep. Barney Frank to Sen. John F. Kerry’s seat if Mr. Kerry is confirmed as secretary of state.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which helped raise money for Democrat Elizabeth Warren during her successful Senate campaign, has launched a new website and online petition.

The petition points to potential cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and says “we can’t afford to have our other senator be lukewarm, undecided, or uncertain.”

“We need someone who we are 100 percent confident will fight right alongside [Ms. Warren],” the petition adds.

The website SignOn.org, affiliated with the liberal activist group MoveOn.org, has posted a similar petition saying “we can’t think of anyone who would do a better job over the next few months than Barney Frank,” who was known as one of the most caustic and effective liberal legislators in the House for 16 terms before deciding to retire last year.

Barney will take on conservative Republicans in Congress who want to cut Social Security and Medicare and play politics with the full faith and credit of the United States,” the petition says.

Mr. Frank, who opted not to run for re-election after a 32-year career in the U.S. House, has taken the unusual step of publicly lobbying for the interim post — even as he endorsed Democratic front-runner Rep. Edward J. Markey in the race to fill the remaining two years of Mr. Kerry’s term.

“I’m very well suited to do it,” Frank said last week. “You’re not going to have a long period to get acquainted with things.”

Mr. Patrick confirmed that he was considering Mr. Frank and believed he would make a “great interim senator,” but added that he has talked to other people about the position as well.

The Democratic governor must appoint someone to fill Mr. Kerry’s seat until a special election is held if Mr. Kerry’s nomination is confirmed. That special election would be scheduled for about five months following the Massachusetts Democrat’s resignation.

It would be the third Senate election in Massachusetts since 2010.

The leading Republican contender for the post is Scott P. Brown, the moderate who won a special election to fill Mr. Kennedy’s seat in early 2010, only to lose to Ms. Warren in an expensive electoral battle in 2012.

Mr. Patrick has said he won’t reveal his pick for interim senator until Mr. Kerry’s resignation is official.

Mr. Kerry, who was nominated to the top diplomatic post by President Obama, is not expected to run into serious opposition from his fellow senators during the confirmation process.

Others mentioned as possible interim senators include Michael Dukakis, the former governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, and Victoria Kennedy, widow of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.