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MA Has History of Elected Officials Leaving Early

One observer called the trend "upward political mobility" for officials in the Bay State, but that's perhaps not the case with outgoing Lt. Gov. Tim Murray.

As Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Tim Murray conducts his final full week in state government, he finds himself close to joining familiar ranks of several top elected Bay State officials in the not too distant past.

Murray, like recent governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci, will not finish his last elected term in office.

After this coming Sunday, Murray, a Democrat, will become the new president and CEO of his hometown Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, a decision he announced last week.

The decision once again raised questions about whether Gov. Deval Patrick will complete his own term set to expire in early 2015.

Weld, a Republican, left the corner office in the mid 1990s after he was tapped by President Bill Clinton to be ambassador to Mexico, however he later withdrew his nomination and was never confirmed by the U.S. Senate

Cellucci, also a Republican, didn't finish his term either, after he was confirmed to be President George W. Bush's ambassador to Canada in 2001.

The history of this kind of occurrence in Massachusetts dates back to the late Republican Gov. John Volpe, who was chosen by President Richard Nixon to be his transportation secretary in 1969 and left two years on his term unfinished.

Patrick Griffin, a former GOP consultant and CEO of Manchester, N.H.-based Griffin York and Krause, said these moves could be related to the fact that being elected in the Bay State can thrust a candidate into the national spotlight.

"Politicians in Massachusetts tend to have a great sense of upward political mobility," Griffin said. 

He cited the history of politicians who have run for president from the Bay State, including John F. Kennedy and recent examples of John Kerry and Mitt Romney. Griffin also mentioned the influence of former U.S. House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill.

"These were all strong figures," Griffin said.

However, in Murray's case, getting out before his term ended clearly wasn't about going places politically with his move to the private sector.

Murray may have been a successor for Patrick in 2014, he was involved in an early-morning car accident in a state vehicle in 2011 and has ties to disgraced former Chelsea Housing Authority chief Michael J. McLaughlin, ties that are still under investigation.

"Tim Murray is a not viable choice for governor," Griffin said, adding that he was "damaged goods" in a political sense.

Murray said last week he would not rule out a run for higher office in the future.

Speaking to reporters last Friday, Patrick said Murray's departure was not like that of Weld or Cellucci.

"This a unique opportunity at a time when it fits in so many ways with the passions and needs of (Murray) and the needs of his family," Patrick said. "He's given 120 percent for six-and-a-half years in office and for a couple of years campaigning. I'm grateful for that. I think the commonwealth is, too."

So, would Patrick leave for greener pastures, like several of his predecessors?

He told WBUR in November that he'd been approached by the White House about possibly taking a job in the Obama administration but said it was "my ambition and my committment" to finish his term and leave Beacon Hill in 2015.

At the press conference where Murray announced his resignation, Patrick was asked if he'd be "next" to resign. Murray answered the question for him.

"As he's said from the beginning, he's committed to finishing the full term," Murray said. "We've got a governor who's going to be here for eight years and he's going to do a great job."

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