House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s farewell speech drew a small audience on Tuesday afternoon, but it was different from its predecessors. Instead of addressing a room full of grassroots members, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many lawmakers to watch DeLeo virtually quit the post he has held for 12 years.
DeLeo, 70, will step down on Tuesday night, ending his record-breaking run as a speaker and three decades in power amid a pandemic that has killed more than 11,000 residents and infected some of his own colleagues.
“While this is not the farewell speech I envisioned, I am happy to join you – even remotely – as this format reflects how this House has adapted to COVID and accomplished so much. things this year, ”the Winthrop Democrat said Tuesday afternoon on the floor of the House. ” I’m proud of it.
So ended DeLeo’s three-decade tenure and tenure as President, having overseen House gaming legislation, gun control and, most recently, police reform and access to law. ‘abortion. He looks to Northeastern University for his next chapter as he explore employment opportunities with his alma mater.
DeLeo was first elected to the House in 1991. He became speaker of the Ways and Means House in 2004 under President Sal DiMasi and when the northern Democrat resigned amid an inquiry criminal, DeLeo took the helm as president.
He took control of the House during a global recession, working with the government of the day. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, on spending cuts and economic development initiatives to keep the state afloat. He has avoided raising taxes for Massachusetts residents, but has increased spending for the past 12 years.
“Sometimes it feels like those 12 years have gone by in an instant,” he said, “but during that time Massachusetts has been ruled by two governors from opposing parties and four presidents of the Senate” .
After DiMasi’s bribery conviction, DeLeo came under scrutiny during a patronage case involving ex-probation commissioner John O’Brien as prosecutors called DeLeo a “Uncharged co-conspirator”. A court of appeal later overturned the convictions of O’Brien and his deputies. DeLeo said the appeals court decision was further evidence that he had done nothing wrong.
Barring major surprises, DeLeo will be the first speaker in three decades to step down without the specter of impending criminal charges.
During his 12 years as a speaker, he has gained a reputation for pushing deals behind closed doors and keeping tight control over House agendas, rarely pushing through a major bill without a majority in the House. veto test. Few have openly criticized his style of leadership, except for Majority Leader Brad Jones and other Republicans, as well as progressives, both of whom say he fails to promote transparency.
DeLeo left a few tips for his colleagues: visit their colleagues’ neighborhoods if they are invited to do so and listen to differing points of view, even if it means not prioritizing their neighborhood each time.
“I would eventually learn that the essence of the role of speaker is to recognize that every member, whatever their political persuasion, is sent to Beacon Hill with exactly the same mandate: to competently represent their 40,000 constituents,” said DeLeo. “Throughout my tenure, I have strived to listen deeply to my colleagues, keep an open mind, and identify solutions that work for the Commonwealth, from the Berkshires to Boston.”
DeLeo’s most likely successor is Majority Leader Ron Mariano, a Democrat from Quincy who was elected around the same time. A retired teacher, Mariano rose to prominence for his expertise in healthcare and financial services, working on the 2006 state healthcare reform bill and other major proposals. As DeLeo’s second in command, Mariano built relationships with representatives from across the state and made deals on behalf of the speaker. on casinos, gun control, transportation and other major bills.
Rep. Russell Holmes competed to replace DeLeo as a speaker, announcing his candidacy in an email in mid-December. However, he soon learned that Mariano had already amassed verbal commitments from lawmakers across the state. He told Mariano on Wednesday that he would end his offer for loudspeaker.
“My thought was I could come in here and be just a sore loser like what we’ve seen our president be… or I can be respectful and respect the process and say ‘OK I lost, I’ll support the Democrats and the caucus and move forward with Ron, ”Holmes said in an interview with MassLive Monday afternoon.
State officials are expected to vote for DeLeo’s successor in caucus on Wednesday, after DeLeo’s resignation takes effect.
“I know Massachusetts is facing such a big challenge now with the pandemic, but you know what?” DeLeo said. “I know I have unwavering faith in this institution, its people and its leaders, that this House will rise to the occasion and that our great State will continue to lead the nation.”