BOSTON — The push for swiftly naming an interim successor to Senator Edward M. Kennedy intensified Wednesday in the wake of his death, with Gov. Deval Patrick coming out strongly in favor of the idea and other top state lawmakers indicating they were reluctant to leave the seat vacant for months.
Mr. Kennedy, concerned about the loss of a Democratic vote during the fevered effort to pass a national health care overhaul — his most cherished legislative goal — had asked state leaders in a letter last week to make such a change possible.
Wednesday, Democrats in Washington stepped up pressure on the governor to see Mr. Kennedy’s wish fulfilled, and state legislative leaders said they would immerse themselves in the issue after a mourning period for Mr. Kennedy.
Under current law, a special election could not take place until at least 145 days after a Senate seat opens, in this case, mid-January. Mr. Kennedy’s proposal would let Mr. Patrick, a Democrat, appoint a temporary replacement sooner.
The governor said he would sign a change in the law if the legislature approved it. He said it was important for Massachusetts to have two voices in the Senate as Congress prepares to vote on overhauling the health care system — contentious legislation whose passage may well require every Democratic vote.
“It’s a particularly timely request at a time when there are such profoundly important issues pending in the Congress,” Mr. Patrick told reporters outside the State House, adding that he had spoken with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, earlier in the day about the importance of filling Mr. Kennedy’s seat. “I’m looking at the issues that are in front of the country right now and how important they are to all of us.”