By Ronald M. Cordes
State Representative Charles Murphy (D, Bedford, Burlington, Wilmington) has announced that he will resign his State Representative seat in July 2012 and will not be a candidate for re-election. He is taking a job in private industry.
The process for replacing Rep. Murphy could possibly become complex. Because the deadline for filing nomination papers for both the Democratic and Republican primaries has passed, candidates interested in succeeding Rep. Murphy must organize a write-in “sticker” campaign for both the Democratic and Republican primaries to be held on September 6. The candidate receiving the most write-in votes on the Republican ballot will be the Republican nominee whose name shall appear on the November General Election ballot.
However, the deadline for Rep. Murphy to withdraw his name from the Democratic primary ballot has also passed, which means his name will appear on the ballot in all three towns. In the event that one of the write-in candidates receives more votes than both Rep. Murphy and the other write-in candidates, that person will be the Democratic nominee.
However, in the event that Rep. Murphy receives more votes than any write-in candidate, he will be the Democratic nominee, even though he has withdrawn from the race. In that case, he must file with the Massachusetts Secretary of State to declare that he refuses the nomination, leaving the Democrats with no nominee for the now-vacant seat.
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 53 Section 14 provides a remedy. While this is a relatively obscure section of the state’s election laws, it has actually been used twice in the state in the past eight years.
In brief, the Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party will delegate one person, selected from the Bedford, Burlington, or Wilmington Democratic Town Committees, to convene a special caucus to elect the party nominee. Each Town committee will be authorized to send a specified number of voting delegates to the caucus. That number will be based on the number of votes the Democratic nominee for Governor received in their town in the last election. In the case of Wilmington, which is only partly in the House district, only those votes cast in the precincts which are part of the current House district will count. The caucus will convene to nominate the Democratic candidate whose name shall appear on the November General Election ballot.
Stay tuned. It could be an interesting September.
Editor’s Note: Ronald M. Cordes is a member of the Bedford Democratic Town Committee and a member of the Rules & By-laws Committee of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee.
Dear Anonymous, your blatant assertion lost all credibility when you failed to post your name. Murphy was here in Bedford at the DTC meeting on May 20th running for office. I believe his decision came with a great private sector offer in late June as he has stated. Even if he had chosen not to run months before as you assert, his current term in office would have ended on the same date anyway. I’d bet you $10 that we have a clear winner on Sept 6th, but since your anonymous its hard to shake hands on it.
The Democratic “insiders” –and I guess I’m one of them– that I know would have been MUCH happier had Rep. Murphy withdrawn before the ballot was printed. Many Bedford Democrats–including Mr. Cordes–find ourselves working hard to run an open sticker/write-in campaign for an excellent candidate in the dog days of summer, when getting public attention is a very uphill battle. The backup caucuses–which only take place if Mr. Murphy gets more votes than each of the write-in candidates–had to be researched by the State Committee, because it’s been used so rarely. Believe me–why not? I’m going to sign my name– in the short time available, we are doing everything we can to ensure our candidate gets the most votes and we don’t have to go to caucus,
Murphy’s staff has known for months he was not running for reelection. Because of Murphy’s gamesmanship, now the Democratic party insiders(the author of this piece, Mr. Cordes, included) will get to select the Dem candidate in private and not via a primary. The insiders and not the Dem primary voters that will select who follows Murphy. Murphy stayed long enough to have a state pension for his elected office experience.