BOSTON — William “Mo” Cowan, the governor’s former chief of staff and one-time chief legal counsel, has been chosen by Gov. Deval Patrick to become the state’s interim United States senator, temporarily replacing John Kerry who was confirmed Tuesday as the country’s next secretary of state.
In choosing Cowan, Patrick has tapped a close confidant and long-time advisor who has been at his side for major policy battles on Beacon Hill in recent years. He also brushed aside a push by just-retired Congressman Barney Frank, who had openly sought the appointment and whose bid for the post had drawn extensive support from Gloucester, New Bedford and other advocates of the beleaguered fishing industry.
Cowan announced in November that he planned to resign as chief of staff this month to return to the private sector. Though he stepped aside the first week in January for new chief of staff Brendan Ryan to take over, Cowan has remained on in the administration as a senior advisor to the governor and planned to stay on through the month of January to help with the release and rollout of the governor’s budget.
Patrickl formally introduced Cowan at an 11 a.m. press conference in his office. When Cowan takes the oath of office, he will become the first African-American senator from Massachusetts since Republican Edward Brooke held the position for two terms from 1967 to 1979 when he was defeated by the late Sen. Paul Tsongas.
Cowan, 43, lives in Stoughton with his wife and two sons, ages eight and four. A native of North Carolina, he graduated from Duke University and Northeastern University Law School. Before joining the administration in 2009, Cowan was a partner at Mintz Levin in Boston practicing civil litigation.
Since taking over for Arthur Bernard as chief of staff in January 2011, Cowan has helped lead the administration through a shakeup of the parole board following a controversy over the shooting death of a Woburn police officer and passage of a major reforms to the health care system currently being implemented.