From NBC's Mark Murray
Today's political news is dominated by Sen. Ted Kennedy's passing. The Boston Globe: "Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who carried aloft the torch of a Massachusetts dynasty and a liberal ideology to the citadel of Senate power, but whose personal and political failings may have prevented him from realizing the ultimate prize of the presidency, died at his home in Hyannis Port last night after a battle with brain cancer. He was 77."
The New York Times: "Mr. Kennedy had been in precarious health since he suffered a seizure in May 2008. His doctors determined the cause was a malignant glioma, a brain tumor that often carries a grim prognosis... While Mr. Kennedy was physically absent from the capital in recent months, his presence was deeply felt as Congress weighed the most sweeping revisions to America's health care system in decades, an effort Mr. Kennedy called 'the cause of my life.'"
The Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Kennedy was embraced early on as an heir to a heroic legacy and long seen as a president-in-waiting. But his own mistakes -- especially a car crash near Chappaquiddick Island in 1969, in which a campaign aide died -- helped cost him the presidency when he sought it in 1980. In later years, episodes like the rape trial of his nephew William Kennedy Smith in 1991 gave him the reputation of an irresponsible playboy. But Mr. Kennedy never entirely lost his standing, and he rebuilt his reputation sufficiently so that when candidate Barack Obama won the senator's endorsement in the Democratic primaries last year, it was seen as a major coup and helped shift the race's dynamic."
Per NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, sources close to the late senator say that extended family came throughout the early evening to Massachusetts. His immediate family was also at his bedside. Kennedy is survived by wife Victoria, three children Kara, Edward Jr. and Patrick, two stepchildren, Curran and Caroline and grandchildren. Details on his funeral and wake arrangements "won't be finalized for the next day or so."
The AP notes that unless Massachusetts' law is changed, a replacement for Kennedy in the Senate won't come for another five months. "Massachusetts law requires a special election for the seat no sooner than 145 days and no later than 160 days after a vacancy occurs. The law bans an interim appointee. The law was changed in 2004, when Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., became his party's presidential nominee and Republican Mitt Romney was the state's governor. Before the change, the governor would have appointed a replacement to serve until the next general election."
More: "Despite speculation that Kennedy's wife, Vicki, could assume his Senate seat, family aides have said she is not interested in replacing her husband either temporarily or permanently. One of Kennedy's nephews, former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, has also been described as interested. Any race to succeed Kennedy would be crowded and fiercely fought."
"Other potential Democratic candidates include state Attorney General Martha Coakley, U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch, Michael Capuano, Edward Markey, James McGovern and William Delahunt, and former Rep. Martin Meehan, now chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. On the Republican side, potential candidates include Cape Cod businessman Jeff Beatty, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and Chris Egan, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Cooperation and Development."
In other news, Gov. Charlie Crist (R) is expected to name a successor to retiring Sen. Mel Martinez (R) by week's end. "Who will get the nod is anybody's guess, although it will come from a shortlist of eight applicants. Crist said Tuesday he hasn't narrowed that list, which doesn't feature a clear front-runner or household name in Florida politics."