By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON -- Ending the speculation around her future in the Legislature, Senate President Therese Murray on Saturday announced that she would not run for re-election this fall after a 22-year career on Beacon Hill where she became the first woman elected to lead the Senate.
Murray's decision not to seek a twelfth term was expected since her tenure as president is due to end in 2015 because of a Senate term limit rule, but Murray had been suggesting she might wait until April to make the final decision. By announcing her plans now, Murray allows potential successors to ramp up their campaigns.
"It has been the greatest honor to serve the Commonwealth and I am forever thankful to the people of the Plymouth and Barnstable District for electing me to this seat time and time again," Murray said in a statement. "We have accomplished so much since I first took my seat in 1993 because of the collaboration and dedication of my colleagues in the Senate and House, and the strong partnerships with the people and local officials in my communities."
First elected in 1992 when she edged Republican Sen. Ned Kirby, Murray made her initial mark working on welfare reform legislation while serving under Senate President William Bulger of South Boston. She later became a top deputy to Senate President Robert Travaglini and chaired the Ways and Means Committee for four years before succeeding Travaglini when he left the Senate at the start of Gov. Deval Patrick's governorship in 2007.
Murray, of Plymouth, was a force in 1995 behind a major overhaul of the Department of Social Services, and now will end her career once again pushing for significant reforms to the state's welfare system through bills that have cleared the House and Senate and are currently being negotiated between the branches.
Under Senate rules that limit a Senate president to eight years in charge of the gavel, Murray would be required to step down as president in March 2015. During a private caucus with Senate Democrats last month, she made it clear to members that she intended to finish out her term and not leave early for another job.
Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg, of Amherst, said last year that he had secured enough votes to succeed Murray as president, beating out Ways and Means Chairman Stephen Brewer who now plans to retire. Rosenberg's success in locking up the support of his colleagues has been seen as emblematic of an ideological shift in the Senate over the past few years to the left of Murray's more moderate, centrist policies and approach to the budget.
"I am humbled to represent the people of the Plymouth and Barnstable District and to lead such a historic and esteemed body as President of the Massachusetts Senate. I will continue to serve through the remainder of my term and I look forward to working on the issues that I am most passionate about for many years to come," said Murray.
Murray represents the Plymouth and Barnstable Senate district, which includes Bourne, Falmouth, Kingston, Pembroke, Plymouth and Sandwich. Though Murray has long held the seat for the Democrats, its demographics present an opportunity for Republicans, who hold four in the 40-member Senate, to pick off one in November.
Murray got a tough challenge from Republican Tom Keyes in 2010 before soundly defeating him in 2012.
Rep. Viriato deMacedo, a Plymouth Republican, has said he would consider running if Murray stepped down, and is considered among insiders to be the early favorite to win Murray's seat.
Former Rep. Matthew Patrick, a Falmouth Democrat who was defeated in 2010 by Republican Rep. David Vieira, is also making preparations to run for Murray's seat, according to multiple sources.
Rep. Thomas Calter, a Kingston Democrat, also lives in the district, along with Republicans Vieira, and Rep. Randy Hunt, of East Sandwich.