By Matt Murphy
State House News Service
---- — BOSTON - Having called off plans to run for another office, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray will announce plans today to resign to take the position of executive director of the Worcester Regional Chamber Commerce, a job that pays more than his current salary and one that will keep him closer to home and his family, according to a source within the Patrick administration.
The former mayor of Worcester, Murray announced earlier this year that he would not run for governor in 2014 after serving six years as Gov. Deval Patrick’s lieutenant governor, handling a portfolio that made him the administration’s liaison to cities and towns. He will leave office with 19 months remaining on his second term.
Murray’s appointment is contingent on a vote of the chamber’s board, expected to happen around noon on Wednesday. He is expected to earn more than $200,000 a year in his new role, according to a source. His current salary is just under $125,000 per year.
Gov. Patrick and Murray are planning to hold a media availability later in the afternoon at the State House.
A source in the Patrick administration said Murray was approached with the job, and was not actively seeking immediate new employment even though he planned to leave politics after his term expires at the end of 2014.
“It’s obviously a big loss for us, but we’re happy for him,” the senior administration official said.
Murray has remained a popular political figure with mayors and city councilors around the state, but his political brand has suffered in the public eye following an early morning car crash in Sterling, and lingering questions about his political ties to disgraced former Chelsea housing director Michael McLaughlin.
Throughout his tenure, Murray has been a loyal Patrick supporter on both policy and political fronts, defending the governor during his reelection campaign in 2010 and attacking his opponent, Republican Charles Baker. Murray has also joined Patrick in his push for new revenues to pay for transportation infrastructure.
He will leave office while heading up the National Lieutenant Governors Association, with his term in that post scheduled to expire at the end of June.
Since Massachusetts does not have a process to fill the lieutenant governor’s office should it become vacated, Gov. Patrick and other administration officials will have to absorb Murray’s workload. One of the top jobs of the lieutenant governor is to preside over weekly, and often raucous, meetings of the Governor’s Council, which is charged with vetting and voting on Patrick’s judicial nominees. On close votes, the lieutenant governor can cast a deciding vote if the governor is present.
A constitutional amendment laying out a process to fill the lieutenant governor’s office should it become vacant has been filed for years on Beacon Hill but the Legislature has shown little interest in advancing it.
Patrick has said repeatedly that he intends to serve his full second term, which ends at the end of 2014, and Murray's departure means that Secretary of State William Galvin, moves up on the acting governor depth chart should Patrick be out of state or in the event that he should leave office for any reason. Patrick is frequently mentioned as a potential Obama administration appointee.
In January, Murray cited family responsibilities and the time commitment involved in running a statewide campaign while continuing to serve as lieutenant governor as his reasons for opting against running for the top job in 2014.
"As I contemplate the commitment required over the next 20 months (and the following four years as Governor) and weigh that against my obligations and responsibilities to my young family, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for Governor in the 2014 election cycle. Nor will I be a candidate for any other statewide office in 2014," Murray said in a letter to supporters in early January.
Murray lives in Worcester with his wife Tammy and two daughters Helen, 7, and Kati, 6.