In Senate leadership fight, no punches thrown

Senate leadership fights ain’t what they used to be.

The bloodless victory claimed Wednesday by Senate majority leader Stanley Rosenberg heralds the smoothest transition of power since Therese Murray took the presidency.

Even Murray, in jockeying to succeed then-Senate President Robert Travaglini in 2007, had to contend with some friction with then-Senator Marian Walsh.

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And that transition was spiced from across the capitol, when then-House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi called for Travaglini, who like Murray withstood long months of speculation about his future plans, to make clear whether he was leaving the Senate. DiMasi’s call for clarification was not welcomed by Travaglini and his aides, who were annoyed by what they perceived as meddling.

Travaglini came to power in 2002, beating out five other senators to succeed outgoing Senate President Thomas Birmingham, who that year lost in the Democratic primary for governor. That race left the Upper Chamber in turmoil for months.

The Travaglini-Murray transition was smoother, in part because Travaglini had made clear he wanted Murray to follow him.

Rosenberg declined to say exactly how many votes he had lined up – “No names, no numbers,” he told the Globe – but Senate sources pegged it at north of 25, a healthy margin beyond the requisite 21. In beating out Senate Ways and Means chairman Stephen Brewer, a Barre Democrat, Rosenberg would restore, temporarily anyway, to Beacon Hill the tradition of majority leaders succeeding to their chambers’ top post. The current Senate president and House speaker both ascended to their roles from their chambers’ respective Ways and Means chairmanships.

The Rosenberg-Brewer race was a quiet, congenial affair. “Not a bad word was said about either of us, in either direction,” Rosenberg said.

Brewer, in a press statement, said Rosenberg would “do a fine job as Senate president when that time comes.”