Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi announced tonight he will step down as a representative and Speaker effective Tuesday evening, following increasing scrutiny into alleged influence-peddling by people close to him. The move fulfills State House rumors from last week that grew louder over the weekend as DiMasi started calling supporters, letting them know his decision to resign was imminent.
On Sunday, State Rep. Bob Spellane called the decision a “personal” one, and said DiMasi “will be regarded as one of if not the most successful speakers of the Massachusetts House.”
“He made a decision that was best…personally and for the institution longterm.”
Rep. Vincent Pedone echoed Spellane’s remarks. “It’s obvious that [DiMasi] and his family had enough with the media attention on the investigation. It appears he made a decision that it was hampering his ability to leave the house. I applaud him for making this decision and for stepping aside. ”
“I’ve spent 16 years in the House and I’ve always considering Sal DiMasi a friend. From a personal level, I’m sad to see him leaving.”
But, Spellane allowed, it is time for DiMasi to step down, as the ethics allegations into his friends are reflecting poorly on the legislature as a whole.
The long running jockeying to replace DiMasi between Reps. Roger DeLeo and John Rogers immediately reached fever pitch. Despite a reported 90 votes locked up for DeLeo (81 are needed to win an election), Rogers supporters attempted to tie DeLeo to DiMasi’s troubles in a public statement.
Locally, four out of the five Worcester representatives (John Binienda, Jim O’Day, Pedone, Spellane) are supporting DeLeo.
Pedone, has been a longtime DiMasi supporter, even campaigning with him in New Hampshire during the presidential race, but made news last year when he helped organize the first major gathering of DeLeo supporters at Maxwell Silverman’s.
“The group we put together last year at Maxine’s was a very strong showing and I think that it helped move the campaign forward. People understood that we’re not just talking about political chest banging, but actual numbers.”
He says the transition to DeLeo – a sure thing in his eyes – will be “seamless.”
“He brings new leadership, a new direction, a clean slate and he is a person that I’ve developed a close relationship with.”
“DeLeo and I are friends, we’ve been friends for a long time and I’m thrilled that my friend is getting elected to the highest position in the house.”
Spellane calls DeLeo “very responsive to my requests for my district and knowledgeable about what is going on in the city of Worcester.”
“He’s going to be a leader similar to DiMasi…he’s going to be engaged.”