The Telegram has the story this morning, and Augustus’ office sent out a press release a few minutes ago “announcing” that Augustus will not seek a third term.
The full text of that press release is below, but one aspect in particular sticks out: Augustus claims in the release that “he decided over the year-end holidays to forgo a reelection campaign.” Interestingly, right after the new year at the city council inauguration, Augustus approached us to vehemently deny any rumors that he was stepping down, telling us they were totally false. Reportedly, Augustus had continued to deny he had any plans to leave the Senate through the past couple weeks.
Now the battle for who takes the seat begins. Rep. John Fresolo has reportedly been waging an active behind the scenes campaign since before Augustus announced his intentions; Karyn Polito will most likely consider the seat from the Republican side, and there are sure to be dozens of more names floated over the next few weeks.
The full release:
AUGUSTUS WILL NOT SEEK 3RD TERM
Boston, MA – State Senator Edward M. Augustus Jr. (D-Worcester) today announced his decision not to seek a third term in the Massachusetts Senate. Augustus, who in his second term had been named to Senate President Therese Murray’s leadership team as Chair of the Senate Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, said he decided over the year-end holidays to forgo a reelection campaign in order to pursue other professional interests.
“I am enormously grateful to the people of the Second Worcester District for giving me the tremendous privilege of representing them for the last four years,” said Augustus. “When I first ran for the Senate, I said I would be a full-time Senator – but that I didn’t expect to serve forever. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished for Central Massachusetts in a relatively short period. And while I have no immediate future plans, at this time in my life, I’m looking forward to pursuing other opportunities. For the next 10 months, however, my office will continue providing the same high level of service my constituents have come to depend on and I intend to fight every day for the issues that make a difference in the lives of working families of my district.”
Augustus, a former member of the Worcester School Committee, said he was most proud of his work on education and economic development issues. Among his top legislative achievements, Augustus cited his successful efforts to expand the state’s brownfields program by authorizing the cleanup of sites contaminated with lead paint and asbestos, provide a state matching grant program to sustain local library services, and establish a statewide education program to prevent shaken baby syndrome. Augustus also played an integral role in the campaign to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage and sponsored legislation to require the state’s pension fund to divest its holdings in companies doing business with the genocidal regime in Sudan. As co-chair of the Central Massachusetts Legislative Caucus, Augustus led the effort to provide $25 million in state financing for the Worcester CitySquare project and reopen the satellite offices of the Chief Medical Examiner at UMass Memorial Hospital and the Commission Against Discrimination at Worcester City Hall.
First elected in 2004, Augustus defeated Shrewsbury Republican Roberta I. Blute by a 28-point margin in a three-way race. Upon being sworn-in, Augustus became the first freshman in a generation appointed to the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee. Re-elected with 63 percent of the vote while carrying all seven communities in the Second Worcester District in another three-way race in 2006, Augustus said he timed his announcement to coincide with the expected availability of candidate nomination papers at this weekend’s local party caucuses. He said he hoped to give his prospective replacements time to consider making the race and his constituents maximum advance notice to ensure that they have the opportunity to put forward candidates of their own choosing.
Augustus, who serves as Chair of the Joint Election Laws Committee and Vice-Chair of the Education, Public Service, and Veterans and Federal Affairs Committees, also expressed hope that key elements of his legislative agenda would be enacted before the end of this year’s legislative session. Augustus said he was particularly optimistic about legislation he sponsored to reduce school dropout rates and the effort to help inform Governor Patrick’s education “Readiness Project” by undertaking a study of how to update the state’s outdated Chapter 70 education funding formula. In the area of election reform, Augustus said he intended to fight for Massachusetts to join a national compact to allocate its electoral votes in presidential elections based on the national popular vote total and for the Commonwealth to join 9 states in the effort to boost voter turnout by authorizing same day voter registration.
For six years prior to his election to the Senate, Augustus served as chief of staff to Third District Congressman James P. McGovern. Previously, Augustus served six years as a high-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton Administration. The first in his family to graduate from college, Augustus worked his way through Suffolk University to earn a bachelor’s degree in government and history. In 1999, he received a master’s degree in government from The Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.
The 2nd Worcester District includes the Grafton Hill, Vernon Hill, Webster Square and Quinsigamond Village neighborhoods in Worcester, as well as the communities of Auburn, Grafton, Leicester, Millbury, Shrewsbury, and Upton.