State senator Marian Walsh of West Roxbury, long rumored to be up for one or another job in state government, has landed one: assistant executive director of the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority (HEFA). OK, it's technically outside the government, but close enough. State House News Service was (I believe) the first to report it.
As I write, the HEFA board is meeting; in that meeting they are expected to approve the appointment
Last year, the Globe reported that the Patrick administration was plotting to get Walsh into HEFA as executive director, a job held by Benson T. Caswell. That was the story that embarassed political consultant Michael Goldman, whose email correspondence with Doug Rubin somehow ended up in reporter Frank Phillips's hands.
Patrick has now made enough appointments to the HEFA board to get his will done -- although that apparently will not include dumping Caswell, who finagled some ridiculous contract from Romney's appointees. So, they're appointing Walsh as assistant. The Patrick administration is working on a major reorganization plan with HEFA and MassDevelopment, so perhaps this is a prelude to putting Walsh in charge of a newly created entity.
In any event, now we've got a state senate seat to fill. The district includes Dedham, Norwood, and Westwood in addition to portions of Boston. As long as the rumors of Walsh's departure have been around, the assumption has been that city councilor John Tobin and state rep Michael Rush are the two heavyweight contenders. Rush has already put word out that he's running, while Tobin intends to wait a little before making a decision, I'm told. But there are plenty of other potential candidates, including city councilor Rob Consalvo -- and at least two state reps, Angelo Scaccia and John Rogers, who are in the House doghouse after the speakership fight and might be interested in a change of venue.
No word yet on the timing of an election, but it seems likely that it will be run as a special. (Given HEFA's role in federal stimulus projects, I doubt the Patrick administration wants a long wait before Walsh retires from her seat.) That means those in office can run at no risk, without giving up their current jobs. However, the timing could be brutal for Tobin and Consalvo, who would probably have to either not run for re-election to the council, or go through both processes (ie, getting signatures) pretty much simultaneously, which is more than a little awkward.
Anyway, this is all obviously just the very initial news and reaction. Much more to come, you can be sure.