State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez of Jamaica Plain has been sounding out Democratic State Committee members about the possibility of running for the party chairmanship when it opens up this fall.
Sánchez — whose House district includes Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, and Roslindale and one Brookline precinct — said he has been calling activists while weighing how to balance family concerns.
“I’m looking at it and am talking to people, just to ask, where do they see the party, and that’s people that are within the party itself and within the community,” Sánchez said.
The current chairman, John E. Walsh, said earlier this month that he planned to step down in the fall. Sánchez praised Walsh, who was Deval Patrick’s campaign manager in 2006 when Patrick won the governorship, for his attentiveness to grass-roots organizing.
“John Walsh did a great job in uniting the party, and we saw the results of that in these past election cycles,” said Sánchez, House chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health. “He generated a great deal of buzz in communities that didn’t know the Democratic Party brand. And whoever the next chairman is, that person will have to build upon that in making sure the party is as united as ever, and [to show] people that the Democratic Party is the party of inclusion.”
Sánchez, 44, decided earlier this year not to run for mayor, after considering the race. Before winning election to the House in 2002, he worked for Mayor Thomas M. Menino as City Hall liaison to the Hispanic community.
Longtime party activists said the Massachusetts Democratic Party has never been chaired by a person of color.
Philip W. Johnston, who preceded Walsh as chairman, said he had discussed the role with Sánchez.
“I think he’s enormously talented, and I think he’d be a great chairman,” Johnston said.
“I think that it’s high time that the Democratic Party had a woman and/or a person of color as chairman,” Johnston added. “I think it would send a very important signal if we were to elect a Latino as party chairman.”
The last sitting elected official to win the role of head of the Democratic State Committee was Joan Menard, who held the role in the 1990s as a member of the state House of Representatives.
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