|1) Byrd [will never cast] another vote. People were more optimistic with Kennedy in the last month, but that has faded.|
2) The MA special election process can't formally begin (i.e. writs of election issued and campaign period commence) until Kennedy formally retires or dies. This ain't the Supreme Court.
3) The MA legislature could at any time, however, reinstate the governor's power to fill vacancies (stripped in '04), which would help speed things up once Kennedy plays his next card.
4) I think Capuano would make a great Senator, although it's not obvious to me he's a great statewide candidate.
Obviously the Blago incident was a lesson in why it might be bad to give a governor sole discretion in appointing a Senator. But going without one for a length of time ain't great either. Wyoming (I think) had a system where the party of the out-going guy would give a list of three names to the governor and he'd pick one.
Oh, WV has a Democratic governor who can just appoint the successor, so Byrd's seat is a non-issue.