Representative Daniel Webster, a five-term state representative from the South Shore, abruptly ended his reelection campaign Monday just days after declaring victory in a tough primary against a late write-in challenger.
Webster, a Hanson Republican, filed a notice with the state Elections Division asking that his name be taken off the November ballot, an aide to Secretary of State William F. Galvin confirmed.
Webster, one of the House’s most conservative members, has served since 2003, representing a district that now includes Pembroke, Duxbury, and Hanson. Democrat Josh Cutler of Duxbury is running in the Sixth Plymouth District.
Messages left for Webster were not immediately returned.
Galvin spokesman Brian McNiff said he did not believe the election results from Thursday’s primary had been certified yet, but he said the Republican State Committee would have until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to decide on a replacement candidate.
Robert Maginn, chairman of the state party, convened a meeting of the party’s executive committee Monday evening by telephone, according to party spokesman Timothy Buckley, and Republican sources expected the committee to name Karen Barry to replace Webster.
Barry, who once worked for Webster as his campaign manager, launched a late write-in campaign to oust the Republican from his legislative seat in the primary and gained considerable traction in a short period of time.
Massachusetts Democratic Party officials were already questioning whether the GOP had enough time to replace Webster on the ballot, pointing to the MassGOP bylaws that suggest members of the state committee must be given at least five days prior notice before a meeting can be held.
“I understand that he has decided to decline the nomination,” House Minority Leader Brad Jones said Monday afternoon.
“I have not spoken with him directly, but I’m assuming it’s to focus his attention on some nonlegislative issues he has to deal with.”
Webster has been dealing with a number of legal issues stemming from accusations that he mismanaged client funds at his Pembroke law firm. His law license was suspended in 2010, and, according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, hearings on Webster’s potential disbarment have been scheduled to begin days after the general election on Nov. 8, 9, 13, and 16 with a prehearing conference set for Sept. 25.
Webster has been accused of illegally converting as much as $30,000 of his client’s estate funds into money for his personal use.
Webster has admitted to shoddy bookkeeping, but denied all other wrongdoing.
Just weeks before last Thursday’s primary, Barry, Webster’s former campaign manager, launched a write-in campaign and came close to upsetting Webster in the primary.
Barry, who lives in Duxbury and grew up in Hanson, is the daughter of former state Representative Charles Mann and works for Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald. She ran Webster’s first campaign in 2002 and again in 2006.
Webster declared victory last Thursday, claiming a lead of more than 300 votes, but Barry did not immediately concede, suggesting the margin was slimmer.
“It’s a difficult decision,” Jones said. “Representative Webster had to make a very personal decision, and I wish him well. Hopefully this will allow him to put 100 percent attention to dealing with those issues he needs to and allow us to have a replacement candidate focused 100 percent on retaining the seat and keeping it in the Republican column.”
Republicans are hoping to maintain or pick up seat this election, building on a successful 2010 campaign when the party more than doubled its ranks in the House to 33 members.
Cutler is a member of the Duxbury Planning Board and Duxbury Democratic Town Committee.