House Speaker Robert DeLeo to resign after 30 years on Beacon Hill

Massachusetts’ longest-serving House Speaker, Robert DeLeo, will end his reign after more than 30 years on Beacon Hill, triggering a leadership shakeup as the Legislature closes out on a tumultuous year.
The Winthrop Democrat will resign, effective Tuesday, according to a letter that was read by House Clerk Steven T. James to representatives in the chamber on Monday.
“It has been an honor and a privilege serving as a member of this institution for almost 30 years,” the letter said. “The faith and trust my colleagues placed in me by electing me as their speaker for a record six consecutive terms fills me with a profound sense of gratitude and appreciation. My pride with what we have collectively accomplished over the last 12 years will never be diminished.”
The move ends weeks of speculation on Beacon Hill that intensified over the last two weeks when DeLeo announced his “intention to begin negotiating prospective employment opportunities with Northeastern University”  — the 70-year-old’s alma mater — in an ethics disclosure.
DeLeo at that time said he had “not personally had any discussions with anyone from Northeastern University relative to any possible employment opportunities.” Northeastern has repeatedly declined to comment about the speaker’s potential job prospects.
DeLeo became the longest-serving speak in February.
He has held the position since 2009 when he ascended to the position after the resignation of former Speaker Sal DiMasi, who was under investigation and eventually convicted by federal authorities on corruption charges. Predecessors Tom Finneran and Charley Flaherty also left under the cloud of corruption.
DeLeo’s legacy, however, will be defined by his tight control of House operations.
His exit follows a turbulent year defined by the coronavirus pandemic, but and racial tensions that served as the impetus for the recently-passed landmark police reform bill — the session’s crowning legislative achievement.
The pieces began falling into place almost immediately as rumors of of DeLeo’s departure spread last week and two representatives jockeyed for votes to take over the top leadership spot.
Quincy state Rep. Ron Mariano, the majority leader and DeLeo’s right hand, has long been thought of as the likely successor and confirmed his interest, “if” the speaker should resign, in a statement following DeLeo’s ethics disclosure.
Mariano said, “I believe I have earned the trust and confidence of my colleagues and that I have gained their support to lead the House forward.”
The 74-year-old majority leader had declined to speak with the Herald further until if and when a leadership change occurred.
Sources have told the Herald that Mariano has the votes locked up to succeed DeLeo. But state Rep. Russell Holmes, a Mattapan Democrat, launched a protest candidacy for the position, telling the Herald he sought to “increase transparency” on Beacon Hill.
By Monday, a three-way race for the 19th Suffolk district, the seat DeLeo holds, had already taken shape with the potential for the candidate pool to grow even bigger.
Juan Pablo Jaramillo, a Democratic State Committee member and political coordinator for 32BJ SEIU from Revere, was first to file as a candidate with the state on Friday.
“I’m taking a very hard look at this seat,” Jaramillo said in an email to the Herald. “I’ve served my community in various capacities throughout my career and this would be an opportunity to continue to serve and bring that perspective to Beacon Hill.”
Joining him are former Winthrop Town Council President Jeffrey Turco and Revere Director of Veteran Services Marc Silvestri, who each had paperwork on file as of Monday.
Valentino Capobianco, a Winthrop School Committee member and state Sen. Paul Feeney’s chief of staff, posted on Facebook that he was “seriously considering” launching a bid.
And Alicia DelVento, a State Democratic Committeewoman and communication and policy aid for Rep. Danielle Gregoire, is also reportedly interested in running.
Lisa Kashinsky contributed to this report.

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