Saturday, 2:15 PM
Ralph Martin says he will not run for mayor of Boston
(Bill Greene/Globe Staff/file)
Ralph C. Martin II, shown above when he left the Suffolk district attorney's office in 2001, said he would not run for mayor of Boston.
By Stephanie Ebbert and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Former Suffolk District Attorney Ralph C. Martin II today ended his flirtation with a campaign for mayor, instead accepting a promotion to run the Boston office of his international law firm.
His ascension appears to make him the first black managing partner of a major Boston law firm, a historic milestone in the city's legal community, where minorities have historically struggled to rise in the ranks. The management committee of Bingham McCutchen voted Tuesday to name Martin managing partner and announced the decision internally this afternoon.
"I've been joking with Ralph that I see his new job as mayor of the firm's Boston office," said Bingham McCutchen's chairman, Jay S. Zimmerman. "What that means is he's charged with listening to people, understanding their needs and concerns, and making sure our Boston office remains a vibrant internal community."
In choosing not to run for mayor, Martin, 55, said he could not get past concerns that politics would consume the next decade of his life, crowding out other interests until he was ready to retire.
"Iím way too ambivalent about it and if youíre ambivalent you shouldnít do it," said Martin, who is married and has three children.
"They donít give the jobs away. Youíve got to be willing to run for it. Running for it was not nearly as difficult a concept as spending the next 10 years of your life doing it," Martin said.
Zimmerman said he concluded several months ago that Martin would be ideal for the job, but didn't raise the issue with him because Martin was still weighing a run for mayor. It was only when Martin told him he would not become a mayoral candidate, Zimmerman said, that he raised the idea of Martin running the Boston office.
"I was not going to do it unless it was the right person," Zimmerman added, "and I can honestly say that if Ralph had made the decision to run for mayor, I wouldn't be filling the job right now."
In his new job, which is effective immediately, Martin will be responsible for a sweeping array of administrative duties, including overseeing the firm's move later this spring from 150 Federal Street to new offices at One Federal St.
He will continue to practice law -- his specialties are business litigation, white collar defense, and internal corporate investigations -- and he will remain the managing principal of Bingham Consulting Group, which does government relations work.
With his decision to forgo a campaign, Martin is effectively giving up politics. Once a rising star on the political scene, Martin left a decade of work as district attorney for a lucrative post at the law firm and the chairmanship of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. But with his atypical profile -- an African-American with ties to the business community who was elected in Suffolk County as a Republican -- he was always eyed for a comeback. And he had often said that the mayor's post would be the job that could lure him back into the political arena.
"Am I shutting the door on politics? Yeah, I think I probably am," Martin said.
Menino, who worked closely with Martin after he was appointed district attorney and who he put his political machine to work to help him reclaim the job in the next election, called Martin a friend who would continue to be involved in the city.
"I told him I'll keep on asking him to help us make this city a better city," Menino said.
The charismatic Martin had the potential to enliven the 2009 mayor's race after embarrassingly weak showings in two prior elections by challengers from city council. Two current city councilors -- Michael Flaherty and John Tobin -- are considering waging campaigns this year but face difficult odds if the mayor remains in the running, as did Martin.
"Mayor Menino is invincible at this point," said Jeffrey Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts University. "There is no candidate on the horizon who can effectively challenge him."
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