Q&A #5: State Senate Leadership

Okay, we have some lege-watchers; "24 Beacon" asks:

Who does the Senate President name as her Majority Leader in January? How does that affect other leadership positions and positioning members for the Senate President race in 2014?

"Jason GWB" asks:

Is there any word on new committee assignments on Beacon Hill?

OK, I don't really have any word on how this is going to go. But it's a big topic of Beacon Hill watchers -- on the senate side, that is. Assignments are always kind of a big deal on the house side, but I don't think there's any huge shake-up expected there.

But here's the deal with the senate. As 24 Beacon suggests, the majority leader slot is open with the departure of Fred Berry. That could easily go to either current Prez Pro Tempore Stan Rosenberg or Assistant Majority Leader Jack Hart without much hassle -- unless the rumors are true that Hart is eyeing the exit, in which case that's a whole other thing.

If you're looking for bright, talented, ambitious, hard-working senators to move up -- well, the problem is that they've all figured out that 'senate leadership' and 'higher elected office' are two mutually exclusive career paths. 

If you're thinking you want to run someday for congress, or constitutional office, or whatever, you don't want to be stuck with the Beacon Hill establishment/insider label that attaches to leadership -- and the obligatory votes members of leadership have to take.

So I don't think you're going to see Ben Downing or Dan Wolf trying to climb the leadership ladder. And others, like Karen Spilka, Anthony Petruccelli, Katherine Clark, Mike Rush, Eileen Donoghue, and Mike Moore, also have to make that calculation. (They might prefer nice committee chairmanships where they can build constituency support and/or war chests.)

Or, of course, Murray could load the leadership with what's left of the old-timers -- Richard Moore, Harriett Chandler, etc.

But of course the big big big question is Senate President Therese Murray's exit strategy. This is presumably her final term in the senate. (She is term-limited out as president in early 2015; it's unlikely she'd stay in the senate as a rank-and-file senator beyond that; she probably wouldn't run for re-election in 2014 with everybody knowing she's leaving in a couple of months.)

A lot of people I talk to believe that Murray will leave before the end of the two-year session. Most expect it by the end of 2013; some predict immediately after finishing the budget in July. I've even heard speculation that she'll mark her 20th anniversary in the senate in January, and quickly leave -- like DiMasi did -- before the date that requires the filing of a financial disclosure for the year.

This could all be wrong; Murray could be fully intending to preside for the entire session. But how she arranges her team presumably depends on how long she's planning to be their coach.

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