Spilka Set To Succeed Chandler As Massachusetts Senate President In July

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/04/05/spilka-set-to-succeed-chandler-as-massachusetts-senate-president-in-july/


By Matt Murphy

BOSTON — Senate President Harriette Chandler and Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka have agreed after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations that Chandler will cede the presidency to Spilka the week of July 23.

The transition, announced Thursday afternoon, is scheduled to occur days before the Legislature wraps up formal sessions for the year.

The two Democrats issued a joint statement on Thursday after Spilka last month claimed enough support to become the next Senate president, and suggested that she was not inclined to wait until January to take over when the new Legislature gets sworn in.

While the shift was promoted by the pair as a way to ensure stability, Spilka’s ascension will mark another major shift in the Senate where she is now on track to become the third Senate president in the past eight months.

Chandler took over as acting Senate president in December when Sen. Stanley Rosenberg reliquished the position following allegations of sexual assault made against his husband, Bryon Hefner, and a subsequent Ethics Committee investigation into whether he had broken any internal rules in relation to those allegations.

In February, amid jockeying for the full-time presidency and a trickle of new details about Hefner’s possible meddling in Senate business, Spilka and other Senate Democrats voted to remove “acting” from Chandler’s title, saying they intended to make her president for the remainder of 2018.

“We have both shared a strong belief that our guiding priority must be to ensure stability in the Massachusetts Senate,” Chandler and Spilka said in the statement on Thursday announcing the agreement. “Each of us also believes that a smooth, orderly transition between each of our tenures as Senate President is the only way to ensure the Senate’s uninterrupted work on behalf of the men, women and children of this Commonwealth.”

Spilka in March announced she secured the votes to succeed Chandler, who at the time expressed a desire to stay on, creating confusion about the transition.

“Senate President Chandler has served the Senate admirably in these challenging times. I look forward to continuing to benefit from her wise counsel throughout my presidency, as I have during the many years of our friendship,” Spilka said in a statement.

“I have asked Senator Chandler to continue on as a valued member of my leadership team, commensurate with her experience and in the best interests of the Senate and I do not anticipate any significant changes in the Senate organization this year.”

A Spilka presidency that launches in the summer would give her the relative quiet five months of informal sessions to adjust to the post and gear up for the 2019-2020 legislative session. The timeline also means Spilka is poised to again lead annual Senate budget talks as Ways and Means chairwoman in May.

Both Chandler, of Worcester, and Spilka, of Ashland, are among the many Senate incumbents seeking re-election during what’s been a tumultuous session in the Upper Branch.