Massachusetts expected to fill Kennedy seat soon

* State house could vote Thursday on interim senator bill

* Lawmakers split but result seen narrowly in favor

* Battle over healthcare makes filling Kennedy seat key (Adds poll on public support for bill, paragraph 12)

By Catherine Bremer

BOSTON, Sept 16 (Reuters) – Massachusetts lawmakers could narrowly pass a bill this week to name an interim senator to replace the late Edward Kennedy and temporarily fill a key Democratic Senate seat as President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill looms.

Democrats, who hold an overwhelming majority in the state, are deeply divided over the issue. Some fear changing the law to let Gov. Deval Patrick pick a temporary replacement could alienate voters who will elect a permanent senator in January…Read More

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