By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- Now that Senate President Therese Murray has announced she will not run for re-election after more than two decades working on Beacon Hill, the Plymouth Democrat said she's "keeping my door open" to new opportunities, but said any perfect new job will have to wait until January.
Murray, who will leave the Legislature at the end of her term in December, said she's not ready to retire and did give some consideration to seeking a twelfth term. "But not for long," she added.
"It's a very difficult and emotional decision because I love this place. I love the institution. I like what I do. But there's term limits on the presidency and if I ran I'd have been kind of looking over Stan's shoulder. I don't think it would be fair to him at all and it wouldn't be fair to my district to run and then leave," Murray told the News Service during a wide-ranging interview in her State House office Monday afternoon.
Murray was referring to Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg, the Amherst Democrat and number two ranking leader in the Senate who announced last year that he had secured the support needed to succeed Murray whenever she steps down. "The transition here is going to be very smooth. The body doesn't like uncertainty so we'll be able to get a lot accomplished this year because everybody knows what's going to happen," Murray said.
The transition, of course, assumes Massachusetts voters in November will return senators to Beacon Hill at the regular clip with which they have in recent elections, where incumbents have dominated.
Murray, who made her decision public over the weekend, said she announced it earlier than she expected out of respect for those who might like to run for the seat and can use the Democratic caucuses that started this past weekend to gather signatures.
Though Murray has long held the seat for the Democrats, demographics in the district present an opportunity for Republicans, who hold four seats in the 40-member Senate, to pick off one in November.
So far Republican Rep. Viriato deMacedo, of Plymouth, has announced his intention to run and is considered an early favorite, while former Rep. Matthew Patrick, of East Falmouth, is also said to be considering a campaign.Asked about her seat going red in November, Murray said, "They've been saying that for a long time. They've been saying that since I ran that it's a Republican seat and there was a Republican in there for 20 years before I beat him." Murray beat Republican Sen. Ned Kirby in 1992.
Still, Murray said she believes the district is winnable for the right Democrat: "Oh yea, absolutely. You just have to be . . . I'm more of a centrist. I'm not left of center or right of center and the district reflects that." Asked if Patrick would fit the mold of an electable Democrat in her district, Murray said she had no comment.
Murray also said she probably would not get too involved in the race to replace her in the Plymouth and Barnstable District, suggesting she would have enough on her plate with the business of the Senate and Attorney General Martha Coakley's campaign for governor.
"I'm going to be involved in Martha's campaign. I have a lot of other things to do," she said. Asked if she planned to take on a formal role with the Coakley campaign, Murray said, "Not yet. I'm just a big champion."
Despite some speculation that Murray might be in line for a Cabinet post should Coakley succeed in her quest to become governor, Murray said she had no interest in serving in the next administration.
She also said she would not be tempted if the right job came along before her term expires in December. "I think if the right job comes along it can wait 10 months," Murray said.
What she plans to do next is anyone's guess, including hers, she insisted. "I'm keeping all my doors open because I'm kind of excited about where I go from here and what I'm going to be doing but I like to do lots of different things," she said.
After seven years of controlling the Senate agenda, Murray admitted that she would "probably" like to be the boss wherever she goes next and run some type of organization. And she's not necessarily looking for something closer to her home in Plymouth.
"I love Boston. And I like traveling," she said.
As for one of her final priorities - raising the minimum wage - Murray believes it's going to happen this year one way or another. The Senate passed a bill to phase in an increase to the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2016, but she said she didn't know what Speaker Robert DeLeo might propose.
"If we don't do it, it will still be on the ballot and the ballot is polling at at least 70 percent in favor so it's going to happen - so it either happens here or it happens on the ballot, and with the governor's year you're going to see a lot of people come out and vote," Murray said.
The Senate president said she would not be surprised if DeLeo proposed a wage lower than $11 an hour, but again pointed to the ballot and the promise of organizers to take the issue to the voters if they don't like what the Legislature approves.
"That's how we come to compromise, but the ballot question is still there and the ballot question is $10.50," Murray said.