If you are a lieutenant governor with no opportunity to become governor, there isn't much point in remaining as lieutenant governor. That's the dynamic that led to the decision Wednesday of Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray to resign and return to his home city of Worcester, where he will lead the Chamber of Commerce. No one could be shocked.
Mr. Murray's run for governor seemed inevitable after Governor Deval Patrick's re-election in 2010, (the governor made it clear he would not seek a third term) but the questionable circumstances of an early morning car crash in November 2011 introduced an element of controversy. The lieutenant governor's ties to Michael McLaughlin, the disgraced former head of the Chelsea Housing Authority, assured that a 2014 campaign for governor would be bogged down in controversy.
A state grand jury is investigating the fundraising activities of Mr. McLaughlin on behalf of Mr. Murray and other state officials. Mr. McLaughlin, who has pleaded guilty to concealing an inflated salary from federal officials, a felony, was prohibited as a federal official from engaging in political activity. The lieutenant governor also recommended Matthew McLaughlin, the son of Michael McLaughin, for a job on the state board that hears appeals from those accused of driving under the influence even though Matthew McLaughlin's license had been suspended for failing to take a Breathalyzer test. The whiff of patronage and fundraising irregularities, whether justified or not, would cloud a gubernatorial campaign, and Mr. Murray announced earlier this year that he would not seek the office.
Governor Patrick and the lieutenant governor made a good Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside combination, with Mr. Patrick, who ran as an outsider, largely taking a grass-roots approach toward pushing his agenda while Mr. Murray, the former mayor of Worcester, worked the inside track with officials in Pittsfield and other communities. The lieutenant governor got good marks for those relationships, and was also a dedicated advocate for military veterans and of public transportation.
Because there is no provision to replace a lieutenant governor the state will be without one through 2014, which will trigger debate as to whether the position, with its $125,000 annual salary, is necessary. For the Berkshires' Jane Swift it was a stepping-stone to the governor's office, but it has not been since. For Timothy Murray, it was not to be.