State senators insist that nobody is thinking about succession when Therese Murray's tenure as Senate president ends (Read "Five years into Therese Murray’s tenure as president, the State Senate seems to have run out of steam"). "The chips will fall where they may when that time comes," says Jack Hart of South Boston. "It's not something I've talked with anybody about."
But others are certainly speculating. Here's the lowdown.
#1. JACK HART, SOUTH BOSTON Hart has risen swiftly under Dorchester-born and -raised Therese Murray, and is now assistant majority leader. Liberals chafe at him as too conservative; others don't see him as a leader. But he's become almost the default successor until someone else steps up.
#2. STAN ROSENBERG, AMHERST With Fred Berry exiting, Rosenberg, who entered the Senate in 1991, will be the longest-serving member. Recovering from cancer, he is seen as a potential short-term solution until a newer member takes over.
#3. STEPHEN BREWER, BARRE Recently promoted to Ways and Means chair, which has been a launching post to the presidency. But few see him as capable of handling the spotlight — a sense that was recently reinforced by his clumsy answers to media questions about his "Stand Your Ground" bill.
#4. BENJAMIN DOWNING, PITTSFIELD Considered by many the standout of the newer crowd — he was first elected in 2007 — Downing may be seeking a track toward higher office rather than Senate leadership.
#5. RICHARD MOORE, UXBRIDGE A veteran not currently on a leadership track under Murray, Moore is well-liked, and despite being seen as conservative could be a bridge between the old-timers and the newbies.
#6. KAREN SPILKA, ASHLAND Recently promoted to assistant majority whip, Spilka is the least-veteran member of Murray's leadership team — which could make her a major player soon.
#7. ANTHONY PETRUCCELLI, EAST BOSTON Quietly earning chits since jumping from the House to the Senate in 2007, Petruccelli is seen as uninspiring by liberals — but also uncontroversial enough to keep rising.
#8. TOM MCGEE, LYNN Steady and generally well-liked, McGee has been barred from leadership by Murray. He could emerge as a consensus-builder when she leaves.
#9. KATHERINE CLARK, MELROSE Just elected last year, after one full term in the House, Clark is seen as a future leader. The question is where, and when.#10. JENNIFER FLANAGAN, LEOMINSTER Murray clearly likes her, and will probably elevate her in the next session. She needs to build more confidence among her peers, but she'll have that chance.
To read the Talking Politics blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dbernstein.