BOSTON (AP) - State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg has rounded up the backing of enough fellow senators to succeed Senate President Therese Murray when her term ends, the Amherst Democrat said Wednesday.
Rosenberg said he's received the overwhelming support of Senate Democrats, who hold 36 of the 40 seats. Rosenberg currently serves as Senate majority leader, a position he was appointed to by Murray.
Murray is barred by term limits from serving as president beyond March 2015.
Rosenberg said the decision to back him as president gives certainty to what could otherwise be a contentious leadership fight. He said the fact that Murray is facing term limits helped speed that process.
"The members like to have a succession plan and have the comfort of knowing how things are going to transpire and how this is going to come to fruition," Rosenberg said. "That's where we are now."
Murray, the first women elected Senate president, said she was pleased that Rosenberg would succeed her.
"I'm delighted. He's a very good friend and he'll make a good leader," she said.
Murray, who declined to say whether she would seek re-election next year, also said that she's not concerned about senators bypassing her authority to try to curry favor with Rosenberg.
"As a majority leader they look to him anyway. That's his job. That's his role. They go to him," she said.
If he is elected to the top post, Rosenberg said as far as he knows he would also be the first Jewish Senate President in the state's history.
Gov. Deval Patrick said Rosenberg would be a good choice.
"He's great. He's terrific," Patrick said, adding that he's still looking forward to continuing working with Murray as long as she remains in the post.
A possible rival for the Senate's top job, Sen. Stephen Brewer, released a statement Wednesday saying he knows Rosenberg will do a fine job as president when the time comes.
Brewer, a Democrat from Barre, currently serves as chairman of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee.
"I have known Stan Rosenberg for over 35 years. We have had similar career paths and shared a common region of the commonwealth," Brewer said in his statement.
In 2009, Rosenberg wrote a July Fourth weekend column in the Daily Hampshire Gazette describing himself as "a foster child who grew up as a ward of the state, as a gay man, as a Jew."
The 63-year-old Rosenberg served in the House from 1987 to 1991, before moving to the Senate. He is also a cancer survivor, having undergone radiation and chemotherapy treatments in 2011 for a common form of skin cancer.
Rosenberg would also become the first Senate president from western Massachusetts since Sen. Maurice Donahue. The late Holyoke resident served as head of the Senate from 1964-1970.
The Senate president is one of the three most powerful political posts on Beacon Hill, along with the House Speaker and governor.
The president assigns fellow senators to committees and names the chairs of the committees. The president also helps craft the Senate's legislative agenda, pushing bills and having a say in budget priorities.