Politics

Odds in Mass. Senate just get worse for GOP

Michael Knapik at his swearing-in ceremony in 2001.
AP/File
Michael Knapik at his swearing-in ceremony in 2001.

The tiny Republican caucus in the Massachusetts Senate, which could fit comfortably in a compact car, is getting even smaller.

Senator Michael R. Knapik said Monday that he is resigning to take a hometown job at Westfield State University, leaving just three Republicans in the 40-member upper chamber on Beacon Hill.

“This is pretty treacherous territory in terms of the numbers we’re at now,” said Senator Robert L. Hedlund, who was one of 16 Republicans when he was first elected to the Senate in 1991. “It’s kind of ridiculous, actually.”

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When Knapik steps down Friday, it will be even harder for his three remaining Republican colleagues to exert any influence, let alone keep an eye on every committee hearing and session called by the Democrats.

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Hedlund already sits on 10 committees and said he cannot remember what they are. “It’s physically impossible for me to attend all the hearings,” he said. “So now with Knapik gone, what am I going to have, 15 committee assignments?”

Senator Richard J. Ross, a Wrentham Republican, said he shuttles among his 11 committees. “Relief will only come when we have more members,” he said.

Knapik, who did not respond to messages seeking comment, will trade an $83,000 salary and a 100-mile commute (one way) from Westfield for a $110,000-a-year job as the school’s executive director of advancement.

He has served in the Senate for 18 years and is the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the $34 billion state budget. A special election will be scheduled to fill his seat.