State Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston) is stepping down from his seat this week and joining a law firm, sources tell the Reporter. Hart confirmed the news on Monday night, saying he will submit a letter of intent to resign on Tuesday, with his last day in the state Senate set for Friday.
Hart, who has served as the Senate's assistant majority leader, has held the First Suffolk District seat since 2002, representing South Boston, Dorchester and Mattapan.
"It’s been an honor and the thrill of a lifetime, truly, to serve in the Senate over the past 11 years," Hart told the Reporter.
His departure sets up a special election later this year, and Hart speculated that Beacon Hill lawmakers could seek to align dates with the special election to replace U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who is expected to be confirmed as President Obama's Secretary of State this week.
Hart said he "really had no intentions of going anywhere." But the law firm Nelson Mullins approached him several weeks ago, he said.
“As difficult as it is to leave the job that I love so much, it is an opportunity and a new challenge and a new chapter in my life," Hart said.
He previously served in the state House of Representatives from 1997 to 2002. As part of his duties as South Boston's state senator, Hart oversees the annual St. Patrick's Day breakfast.
Hart chief of staff Jennifer Jackson will be joining the outgoing senator at Nelson Mullins, according to a release on the law firm's website.
The district is home to a wide variety of potential candidates, including state Reps. Martin Walsh of Savin Hill, Linda Dorcena Forry of Lower Mills and Nick Collins of South Boston. Rep. Forry, who is married to Reporter managing editor Bill Forry, said on Twitter on Monday night, "I will seriously explore a run for #1stSuffolk Senate."
Craig Galvin, who ran for the City Council's District 3 seat in 2011, could also be a potential candidate. He told the Reporter, "Any way that I can help serve the people of Dorchester, I’d be interested."
Former City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty, who gave up his Council seat to run for mayor in 2009 and unsuccessfully attempted to regain it in 2011, spoke of a potential run on Facebook. "Many have asked already whether I would consider running for the First Suffolk Senate Seat," Flaherty, a South Boston native, wrote. "It would be a privilege to work for the people of Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park and South Boston again. But that decision is best left for another day. Right now - let's all just wish Jack the very best."
Flaherty did not return phone calls to his cell phone earlier in the evening.
This post was updated at 8:58 p.m. on Jan. 28 with comments and confirmation from the senator. Further updated at 9:58 p.m. with potential candidates and at 11:24 p.m. with Flaherty statement. A third update, on Jan. 29 at 10:49 a.m., from the Nelsons Mullins press release.