When former Minority Leader Fran Marini announced in January 2002 that he would not seek a fifth term, the Hanson Republican, who would later be appointed as a judge, said he was leaving the House because he was committed to the concept of term limits.
On Wednesday, Marini's successor, North Reading Republican Brad Jones, will be sworn in for his ninth two-year term and seek his fifth term as leader of the House Republicans, a group that will feature 32 members, including 21 freshmen, pending the outcome of one disputed election.
Legislative rules limit the House speaker and Senate president to four consecutive two-year stints in those roles, but there are no such limits on the minority leader posts in either branch and Jones, who has cast 5,116 roll call votes without missing one, is showing no signs that he plans to step down.
In an interview, Jones, whose district includes part of Middleton, said the term limits on the top jobs in the branches, which were instituted in the House by Speaker Robert DeLeo, are "appropriate" but drew a distinction between his job and DeLeo's.
While the Speaker is elected by all members of the House, the Republican floor leader is chosen by only members of the minority party, he said. There are "dramatically different power levels" between his post and the Speaker's job, Jones said, adding that both DeLeo and Murray ran the powerful Ways and Means committees before being promoted. "That adds another wrinkle to it," said Jones.
His determination to stay on as head of the House Republicans through another session in which the branch is dominated by Democrats may cause some to recall the days when former House Speaker Thomas Finneran, before his dramatic downfall, was described by many on the Hill as "speaker for life."
Jones told the News Service Monday that he does not have a self-imposed limit on his run as minority leader or a number of years in mind. He said he loves his job and accurately noted that his handle on it depends on the support of Republican members.
"I take it a term at a time," Jones said. "There's no magical number out there."
Jones this session held on to his post in the face of a strong challenge by outgoing Rep. Lewis Evangelidis (R-Holden), who is leaving the House and will become Worcester County's next sheriff.
Pending the outcome of disputed election results in the Sixth Worcester District, 32 Republicans are poised to join the House this year, a doubling of their numbers compared to this session. Jones said he's looking forward to working with a "reenergized and reinvigorated caucus."