Q&A #2: AG Succession

Two AG-succession questions. "Tim Grace" asks:

With Martha headed to Washington, who's in line for AG?

"Boston Bertie" asks:

What's the chances that Bill Galvin will run for Attorney General? And, which hack will the House appoint as interim AG?

Long answer coming, with no real answer; there are just too many moving parts to this, and nobody I talk to seems to know what's going to shake out.

First, the technical details for those who don't follow such arcaneries: if Coakley becomes US Senator, creating a vacancy at AG, her first deputy -- David Friedman -- becomes acting AG. However, the state legislature has the power to appoint an acting AG via constitutional convention, and most people assume A) that they will do so; B) that because the House Democrats have nearly three-quarters of the 200 votes at the concon, Speaker Bob DeLeo pretty much gets to pick the successor; and C) because of item B, the appointee will be a member of the House.

In any event, the AG seat is up for election in 2010, with the Democratic primary scheduled for September.

In my opinion, the smart thing for the legislature to do would be to let Friedman do the job for the year, and let whoever wants the position (including Friedman) run for realsies. But, that would be the smart thing, so I have assumed that won't happen.

The House members considered most likely to get the appointment are Charlie Murphy, Peter Koutoujian, and Jim Vallee, probably in that order.

They don't want the 'leave Friedman be' scenario, because they each know they would be hard-pressed to win the seat without the advantage of (temporary) incumbency. House members, even quite powerful ones like those three, are barely known across the state, and would have a tough time against others who intend to run, like, say, Norfolk DA Bill Keating, who starts with a much bigger base. Plus, the House isn't exactly well-loved statewide at the moment. So Charlie & Co. know that the fill-in appointment is probably their only real avenue to victory.

There is, however, an increasing amount of chatter that senate president Terri Murray may try to push for leaving Friedman in place, both as a favor to Coakley, and to give a better chance in 2010 for whoever her favored AG candidate will be. Technically, I believe it's true that Murray has the power to call the concon, so she could simply refuse to do so -- as a practical political matter, I think that's highly unlikely.

But Galvin's increasingly open interest -- which was all the talk at the Coakley election-night party -- is an interesting complicating factor. I'm told that Galvin has met with DeLeo, who told him he's not getting the appointment. My theory is that Galvin is now trying to scare everyone else off of wanting the appointment.

Galvin is sitting on a war chest of more than $2 million, and can presumably raise a lot more in a hurry. He has very high statewide name recognition, is generally well-liked, and has of late been getting his name in the news as an aggressive champion against corruption. Call me crazy, but I think he cleans the clock of any House-appointed House member AG appointee.

So, does C. Murphy really want to give up his Ways & Means chairmanship to get one year as acting AG and then a boot back to Burlington?

So maybe they all quietly withdraw their names from consideration, and DeLeo either picks an obvious lame duck, or leaves Friedman in place.

Or... decides to appoint Galvin AG so that he can appoint someone to G's Sec'y of State position! Awfully tempting. (Even putting aside the rumors that DeLeo would appoint himself, which I don't see happening.)

As you can see, there are plenty of moving parts here. One thing I think is clear: DeLeo is not going to go public early with a selection -- which they would desperately want, to fundraise off of it in these last weeks of the calendar year.

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