The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council is plucking another Democrat from the Legislature to help build on its State House relationships.
State Representative Edward F. Coppinger, a West Roxbury Democrat, is joining the powerful trade group as its head of government affairs, a MassBio spokesman told the Globe Thursday.
Coppinger, who was first elected to the House in 2010, will start on March 1 in the newly created position, helping chief executive and president Kendalle Burlin O’Connell on state and federal policy issues, according to the group.
Speculation has swirled about Coppinger’s departure on Beacon Hill for weeks. He disclosed to state ethics regulators and the Massachusetts House clerk in late January that he was in negotiations about a possible job.
Since then, at least two Democrats have filed campaign finance paperwork in preparation for a run for his 10th Suffolk seat. And House Speaker Ronald Mariano last week omitted Coppinger from any committee assignments, a notable exclusion given Coppinger had headed the Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses the past six years.
Coppinger, a mortgage loan officer by trade, did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
First elected to the House in 2010, Coppinger served in chairmanship roles under both Mariano and his predecessor, Robert DeLeo, and was a potential candidate to rise further in the chamber’s ranks this session. He has cut a reputation as a centrist Democrat, appearing on the campaign trail with Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll in support of her and Governor Maura Healey’s bid for office last fall eight years after he broke party ranks to back Charlie Baker, a Republican, in his successful bid for governor.
Coppinger’s move to MassBio comes months after the trade group reshuffled its leadership, turning to Burlin O’Connell as its next chief executive officer to replace former state senator Joseph Boncore.
Boncore, who is still on MassBio’s payroll as a consultant, served in the head role for a little more than a year. Some board members told the Globe he was fired, while MassBio said he resigned. His departure was notable nonetheless. The group, which serves as the life sciences industry’s chief lobbyist in Massachusetts, has traditionally turned to former legislators to serve as chief executive.
Before Boncore, Bob Coughlin, a former state representative, was the group’s president and chief executive for 13 years. He had replaced former House speaker Tom Finneran, who served as CEO before being forced to quit in 2007 after he pleaded guilty to a felony obstruction-of-justice charge related to his time in the Legislature.
MassBio’s chief priority is now pushing for another substantial investment from Beacon Hill to help keep the industry competitive. Former governors Deval Patrick and Baker each pushed through legislation that collectively pumped nearly $1.6 billion into life sciences over the past 15 years. The money runs out in June.
Once Coppinger leaves, his and Representative Jon Santiago’s departures could create two special elections within the city’s 17-seat House delegation. Healey named Santiago the next secretary of Veterans’ Services last week.
Shirley Leung of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Matt Stout can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.