Skip to Content
http://www.wgbh.org/authenticate/login

UPDATED: Spilka, Forry Will Seek State Senate Presidency Should Rosenberg Vacate

spilka_ap_691117869426_websize.jpg
Massachusetts Senator Karen Spilka on January 25, 2016.
Steven Senne/AP

UPDATED, Dec. 6, 10:50 am: State Senate Ways And Means Chair Karen Spilka of Ashland and Dorchester Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry will be candidates to lead the upper chamber should the senate presidency become vacant.

Spilka and Forry confirmed their intent to WGBH News Wednesday.

"Let me be clear, I did not make phones calls rounding up support for the Senate presidency this weekend. I spoke to colleagues like most of us did to discuss the issues of concern to all of us. However, if there is a senate president vacancy I will be candidate for Senate President," Spilka said.

"Members have reached out to me and if there is a vacancy, I will be a candidate for Senate President," Forry also said Wednesday morning.

Spilka and Forry, join Sen. Eileen Donoghue of Lowell in declaring their intent to replace Senate President Stan Rosenberg, should Rosenberg not resume his leadership slot after the conclusion of an ethics investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against his husband, Bryon Hefner.

"If there were a vacating of the office, if the president decided to leave the office permanently, and if there's support, then I'd take up discussions for the office," Donaghue told the Lowell Sun Tuesday.

Sen. Sal DiDomenico of Everett is also considered to be a contender. DiDomenico recused himself from that investigation in a move widely interpreted as a serious expression of interest. DiDomenico was not readily available for comment. 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PUBLISHED: Dec. 5: The Massachusetts Senate Tuesday began investigating alleged sexual misconduct and influence peddling by Senate President Stan Rosenberg's husband, as well as what Rosenberg may have known about it. The opening of the investigation begins a transition phase for the chamber that could end with, sooner or later, fresh leadership for the upper chamber.

The Senate's Ethics Committee met Tuesday, the morning after Rosenberg stepped aside from the presidency and veteran Worcester Sen. Harriette Chandler was elevated by her colleagues to become acting president for the duration of the Rosenberg investigation.

Chandler said she'll step down when the committee offers its findings. If Rosenberg is found not to have been negligent or complicit of wrongdoing, he could return as Senate President. But if the investigation, or political will, turns against Rosenberg, the Senate would need to select a new permanent leader.

If he does return, Rosenberg could shepherd the Senate's agenda through the remaining months of the Legislature's session, and could stand for another term should his colleague have faith in him.

But the Hefner scandal may have fatally harmed Rosenberg's ability, or willingness, to run for reelection and return for a third session as president in November 2018. Few would blame the 68-year-old Amherst Democrat for focusing on his personal life and leaving the Senate to a new generation.

Even if Rosenberg returns to the presidency fully exonerated, the seven hours Senators spent debating the investigation and the future of the chamber Monday opened the door for other members to quietly gauge their colleges and make moves to become Rosenberg's successor, when that time comes.

Sens. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), Eileen Donaghue (D-Lowell), Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester) have all been mentioned as possible successors to Rosenberg. None of those on the short list managed to put together enough support from their colleagues on Monday to overcome Chandler's pitch to become president in Rosenberg's stead. Loyalty to Rosenberg will deteriorate as the scandal goes on or if the investigation tarnishes the Amherst progressive's spotless reputation for transparency.

When they met Tuesday morning, the Ethics Committee, under the leadership of Sen. Michael Rodrigues, promised confidentiality to anyone with information about Rosenberg's husband, Bryon Hefner, and whether he sexually harassed men with business before the state and offered Rosenberg's political influence for sex.

The committee will hire a special investigator to lead the probe..

Share

WGBH News coverage is a resource provided by member-supported public radio. We can’t do it without you.
Expand