Former Rep. Carlos Henriquez is wrestling with the decision of whether to run for his old seat in the House of Representatives—the same House that expelled him from office in 2014.
"I'm very close to making the decision one way or another," Henriquez told WGBH News Thursday, adding that he cannot say that he is running just yet.
The Dorchester Democrat hasn't pulled papers for the seat, currently held by Rep. Evandro Carvalho. Henriquez said he has the support of the people who helped him initially win the seat in 2010.
Henriquez was expelled from the House in Februrary 2014 after his conviction for assaulting a former girlfriend. Henriquez maintains his innocence to the battery charges and claims the House violated their own rules by removing him.
Henriquez said his discussions with supports are about whether he would want to be a part of the Democratic caucus that removed him from his seat after a lengthy ethics investigation.
Henriquez said he was frustrated by the how the House operates, with power centralized around Speaker Robert DeLeo and a circle of top leaders.
"There are some people whose work I really respect, and people I really respect, and then there are some things that really I can only speak to myself as a legislator—that made it really hard for me to sleep at night, when you hold back the curtain and you see how things really work," Henriquez said.
Henriquez said whether or not you believe in his guilt or innocence, he can be a strong voice on matters of domestic violence in the Legislature because of his experience with his own case. Henriquez said he began a court-ordered 40-week program for batterers angry because he didn't believe he belonged in it, but by the end he "learned more about domestic violence than [he] did as a legislator."
Carvalho, Henriquez's successor in the seat, has been praised by DeLeo as a young lawmaker to watch.
"The speaker used to speak highly of me also," Henriquez said.
Henriquez said he can run in the Democratic primary against Carvalho without having to match the funding prowess of the incumbent by utilizing groundwork and a network of volunteers.
In a statement, Carvalho said he's looking forward to continue his work over the remainder of the legislative session and he is running for re-election.
"I have been working hard on behalf of the people of Dorchester and Roxbury," Carvalho said. "I believe the people will recognize my efforts."
The former lawmaker opposes the House's move to eliminate DeLeo's term limit as speaker last year, saying it's "no way for Democrats that believe in democracy" to act.
"I would not have voted for that," Henriquez said.
Henriquez said he wasn't worried about Carvalho possibly having political and financial support from DeLeo, who controls huge reserves of campaign cash for House Democrats.
"There's kind of a code to protect incumbents, which is not very democratic," Henriquez said.
"To take a challenger out of a race or to minimize a challenge only hurts the district engagement around democracy," Henriquez said when asked if he thought DeLeo would play a role in the primary race.
Henriquez said money from Democratic leaders outside the community usurps the power of the district.
"It's legal, but I don't think it's always in the best interest of the residents of my community or for the process," Henriquez said.
"To say, 'Okay, I'm going to raise you $15,000 because I don't want this guy in and I want you in,'" is something officials should explore the fairness of, he said.
"But this is what happens when Democrats start to remove democracy," Henriquez said.