DeLeo Departure Could Shift Power to SouthCoast [OPINION]
The Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives may be stepping down. Winthrop Democrat Robert DeLeo is reported to be considering a job in the field of higher education. You know, the feeding trough for politicians who have had enough or have been asked by voters to exit stage left.
NBC10 Boston reported yesterday that DeLeo would resign his House seat for a position with his alma mater Northeastern University. This ignited an immediate flurry of activity up on Beacon Hill by those loyal DeLeo minions that would be only too anxious to push him out of the way and lay claim to the Speaker's office.
But alas, DeLeo, whose historic run as Speaker has lasted 12 years, appears to be playing coy. DeLeo spokesperson Catherine Williams issued a one-sentence statement to the State House News Service in which she denies the report: "The Speaker has had no such talks with, much less does he have any agreement with, Northeastern University."
Should DeLeo decide to split, it could have a beneficial impact on our part of the state. Democratic State Representative Patricia Haddad of Somerset has served as Speaker Pro Tempore since 2011 and has often been considered a "rising star" in a sky that almost never changes. Should DeLeo decide to bolt from the Hill, Haddad could emerge as the next Speaker.
Senator Michael Rodrigues, a Westport Democrat, was recently named chairman of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee. The elevation of Haddad to Speaker would refocus the power of the Massachusetts Legislature to the southeastern part of the state, giving clout to a region most often neglected on Beacon Hill.
Should DeLeo decide to resign his position, he would be the first Speaker out of the last four not to do so under the threat of indictment. Now that's progress.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.