Three open seats on the Governor’s Council and competitive races in four other council districts could further shake up a notoriously unpredictable body responsible for confirming judges to the bench, one that operates largely out of the public eye.
After the 2010 election ushered in two Republicans to the eight-seat council to join two Democrats prone to be skeptical of Governor Deval Patrick’s judicial nominees, the governor found himself navigating a far more complicated path for his appointments.
Tie votes required Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray to break the deadlock on a few occasions, while the council also rejected one of Patrick’s Parole Board picks.
Infighting among the councilors was also on display, including arguments that erupted during public meetings and judicial candidate interviews between Councilors Marilyn Devaney and Thomas Merrigan.
With the Sept. 6 primary three weeks away, five of the eight councilors are seeking reelection, including Devaney, Democrat of Watertown; Terrence Kennedy, Democrat of Lynnfield; Christopher Iannella, Democrat of Boston; Charles Cipollini, Republican of Fall River; and Jennie Caissie, Republican of Oxford.
Caissie is the only councilor without a challenger.
Merrigan, a former judge and a Greenfield Democrat, decided not to seek reelection while Councilor Mary-Ellen Manning, Democrat of Peabody, runs for the state Senate seat vacated by retiring Senator Frederick Berry. Kelly Timilty, a nine-time councilor from Dedham, passed away this year opening up a third council seat.
Governor’s Council districts are each comprised of five state senatorial districts.
In the First District on the South Coast, Cipollini will face off against the winner of a three-way Democratic primary. For the second time in as many elections, the Democratic field includes his brother, Oliver Cipollini.
The other two Democrats on the ticket in the First District are Walter Moniz, of New Bedford, and Nicholas Bernier, 26, a Providence lawyer from Swansea.
In the open Second District, four Democrats are running for the seat once held by Timilty, including Brian Clinton, Robert Jubinville, Patrick McCabe, and Bart Timilty, a mentor in the Norfolk County Sheriff’s department’s reentry mentor program and Kelly’s brother. Earl Sholley is running as a Republican in that district.
Devaney has two Democratic challengers in the Third District, attorney Harry Margolis of Brookline and Charles Shapiro of Newton. Iannella has one Democratic opponent, Stephen Flynn.
For the open seat in the Fifth District on the North Shore currently held by Manning, four Democrats, including Donald Bumiller of Boxford, Eileen Duff of Gloucester, David Eppley of Salem, and George O’Brine of Salem, are running to face Republican Maura Ciardiello of Haverhill.
Kennedy has one Democratic opponent, Francis Flaherty of Medford, while three Democrats and two Republicans are vying for the Western Massachusetts seat being vacated by Merrigan. On the Democratic side are Michael Albano of Longmeadow, Gerry Roy of Chicopee, and Kevin Sullivan of Westfield.
Republicans Michael Case of Washington and Michael Franco of Holyoke are running in the Eighth District.