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Many politicians skipping St. Patrick’s breakfast in Southie

AMONG THOSE NOT GOING THIS YEAR — Senate President Therese Murray (right) is skipping the event, and Governor Deval Patrick will appear via television.

John Bohn/Globe Staff/file 2009

AMONG THOSE NOT GOING THIS YEAR — Senate President Therese Murray (right) is skipping the event, and Governor Deval Patrick will appear via television.

Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray was the hit of last year’s South Boston St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, spoofing his death-defying high-speed car crash by showing up in a racing helmet and jacket.

This year, Murray is staying safe at home.

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“It’s the LG’s anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day,” said spokesman Scott Ferson. “He hasn’t ­always had the opportunity to avoid public appearances, but he’s taking advantage of that oppor­tunity this year to spend time with his wife.”

Likewise, Governor Deval Patrick will miss the annual roast, appearing only on video for the second year in a row. “I’m going to be out of town; that’s all I’ve got to say,” the governor said on WGBH-radio Thursday when asked why he would stay away.

Senate President Therese Murray will not be in South Boston Sunday either. Though she has attended regularly since becoming president, Murray has to be in the district this year, said her spokesman, David ­Falcone.

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The South Boston St. ­Patrick’s Day Breakfast, once a mandatory stop on a Beacon Hill politician’s schedule, may be losing some fizz among politicians this year, a nonelection year with a fourth-generation host.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff/File 2001

AMONG THOSE GOING THIS YEAR — But Mayor Thomas M. Menino, his challenger, Councilor John Connolly and newly elected Senator Elizabeth Warren will be there.

The two Democrats vying for the nomination for US Senate will be in attendance. But the three Republican hopefuls were not initially invited, and at least two of them will head to a rival breakfast in Scituate.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino will appear. So, too, will mayoral candidate and Councilor John Connolly, though Connolly does not get to speak.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren will be there, an aide said, but her even newer counterpart, interim Senator William “Mo” Cowan, is not attending due to a personal commitment, said his spokesman Alec Gerlach. The aide declined to elaborate.

Though a staple of the political season for local politicians, the breakfast is less of a high point for US senators. The late Edward M. Kennedy seldom showed up, and former senator John F. Kerry stopped coming after his presidential run.

In the midst of a campaign year, the event can be a boost to a politician facing reelection who can claim some television air time with a quip, Ferson said. That said, it is earned air time, he said.

“Politicians go to events all the time where it’s work,” said Ferson. “And I think this is work, as opposed to the social occasion it was back in the day.”

Ferson also represents US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston native who is running for US Senate and who will appear Sunday along with fellow candidate, US Representative Edward J. Markey.

Many politicians and their aides acknowledged mixed feelings about their adherence to the storied tradition. The governor told the breakfast crowd with relief in 2011 that he only had three more appearances left in his term. But this year will mark the second in a row he is appearing only remotely, on video.

The breakfast, a somewhat hackneyed political ritual, can seem fixed in time, but has faced fairly regular identity crises. The good old days saw Senate President William M. ­Bulger, an orator, as host. He ceded to Lynch, his successor in the state Senate, who handed the reins to state Senator John A. Hart Jr. 10 years ago.

This year, a new emcee is taking to the stage. Traditionally, South Boston’s state senator hosts the event, but this year, Councilor Bill Linehan of South Boston will temporarily take the reins from Hart, who left the Legislature earlier this year.

Next year could bring even greater change. Hart’s successor will be chosen in the May 28 special election for the state Senate. On the Democratic side, the field includes state Representative Nick Collins and ­Maureen Dahill of South Boston, along with state Representative Linda Dorcena Forry of Dorchester. The only Republican now running is Joseph ­Ureneck, also of Dorchester.

Though Dorcena Forry joked Friday that she is running for the seat, not the emcee job, she wants people to know that, if elected senator, “this is a tradition that will continue under my watch.”

The breakfast will be broadcast live on New England Cable News, starting at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at ebbert@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter
@stephanieebbert.
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