BOSTON (AP) — Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, was elected by his colleagues Wednesday to serve in the powerful position of president of the Massachusetts Senate, one day before a new Republican governor was set to take office.
Rosenberg, 65, succeeds Therese Murray, a Plymouth Democrat who retired after nearly eight years as Senate president. He is the first openly gay lawmaker chosen to lead either of the state’s legislative chambers, and the first legislative leader from western Massachusetts since the early 1970s.
All 34 Democrats backed Rosenberg for the post, and the six Republicans in the chamber later moved to make the selection unanimous.
House Democrats unanimously re-elected Winthrop Democrat Robert DeLeo to serve as House Speaker. This will be DeLeo’s fourth term as speaker and his last under current House rules.
Outgoing Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, in one of his final official acts, swore-in the 160 members of the House and 40 members of the Senate that will comprise the 189th General Court, an official title for the Legislature dating back to colonial days.
Rosenberg, in his acceptance speech after being elected Senate president, promised to work cooperatively with Republican Charlie Baker, who will be sworn in as the state’s next governor on Thursday.
“We will work with him for the good of the commonwealth and its people,” said Rosenberg. “We will not obstruct him for obstruction’s sake.”
Rosenberg, a 24-year veteran of the Senate who most recently served as majority leader, was elected despite a recent controversy surrounding his domestic partner, Bryon Hefner. The Boston Globe reported last month that Hefner had raised eyebrows by mocking Murray on Twitter and boasting that he would exert influence on legislative affairs.
Rosenberg responded with a letter to colleagues in which he promised a “firewall” between his private and professional life.
In his speech, Rosenberg thanked Hefner for “standing by him in good times and bad.”
DeLeo told a jovial meeting of House Democrats earlier Wednesday that his re-election as speaker “never gets old.” He predicted the coming session would pose challenges, including fiscal ones — an apparent reference to a budget deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30 that has been estimated at $329 million by Patrick’s administration, but higher by some outside analysts.
“We are going to keep on moving this commonwealth forward,” DeLeo said.
Rep. Brad Jones, R-North Andover, was re-elected minority leader by House Republicans and Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, will continue as Senate minority leader. Republicans remain heavily outnumbered in both chambers, without enough votes on their own to sustain any future vetoes by Baker.
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