Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo is leaving the post he has held for more than a decade, and he's doing so on his own terms.
It's a notable distinction, given that the three speakers who preceded him — Sal DiMasi, Tom Finneran and Charley Flaherty — all left amid corruption charges.
"It's refreshing that he doesn't have to step down under a cloud like his predecessors did," said Boston University professor Tom Whalen.
A source told NBC10 Boston Wednesday that DeLeo would step down to take a position at Northeastern University.
With the pandemic likely to impact much of lawmaking in 2021, and with a number of major cuts likely on the horizon, Whalen says the 70-year-old Democrat from Winthrop may have seen this as a good time to step back.
"I think he just didn't want to be around to make those kind of decisions that would basically tarnish his legacy and make them a very unpopular figure within the Democratic Party," Whalen said.
The longest-serving speaker in state history, DeLeo has not yet gone public with his plans.
"The speaker has had no such talks with, much less does he have any agreement with, Northeastern University," a spokesperson for DeLeo said in a statement Wednesday night.
But that hasn't stopped the buzz over who will replace him. Most political observers say House Majority Leader Ron Mariano is a top contender. But Whalen wonders whether lawmakers will bring an end an unbroken chain of white male House leadership.
"I think this is planting the seeds for a Democratic rebellion in the House caucus," he said.
As of Wednesday, DeLeo reportedly had yet to file an ethics disclosure form with the House clerk, required for outside job negotiations.
Asked about DeLeo joining the university, Northeastern officials declined to comment.