Mattapan Rep. Russell Holmes doesn't want "backroom deals" to decide the next leader of the Massachusetts House of Representative, so he's challenging Majority Leader Ron Mariano's bid to become speaker assuming Robert DeLeo departs.
"I do not think that these things should happen in secret, which is exactly what was going to happen," Holmes told GBH News at the State House on Friday.
"The commonwealth should know that a new speaker's been elected, and they should have a voice to all their reps to make sure that they ask for transparency. They ask for more fairness. They ask that we don't concentrate all the power within just a couple of people, which is the way it's been obviously for the last decade," Holmes said.
Holmes said he's concerned that a pattern of hand-picked succession initiated by former Speaker Sal DiMasi, who spent five years in federal prison for corruption, will continue through Mariano and on to DiMasi's former aide and current budget chief, Aaron Michlewitz.
"That, to me, really is unacceptable," Holmes said.
DeLeo disclosed Friday that he's entering discussions with his alma mater, Northeastern University, for a job.
Holmes said he expects at least a few of his colleagues to vote for him when the time comes to select the next speaker.
Homes was stripped of his vice chairmanship of the Housing Committee by DeLeo, reportedly for encouraging legislative caucuses outside of the speaker's inner circle to be more active in picking House leaders.
Holmes said further retaliation from Mariano if he's elected will only harm the constituents of his Sixth Suffolk District, which includes parts of Mattapan and Dorchester — a district that votes overwhelmingly Democratic every election.
Punishment for Holmes, in the form of stalled legislation or the removal of budget amendments by House leaders, "means that you don't respect us," he said.
"You don't think that our legislation, our earmarks are most important? Our constituent services are most important? That's, just to me, structural racism personified," Holms said.
"If I lose this race, I'm certainly hoping that the point is made that the most reliable voters in this commonwealth for the Democratic Party should never be silenced," Holmes added.