St. Fleur confirms she's not running for reelection

State Rep. Marie St. Fleur, a self-described "Uphams Corner kid," isn't running for re-election, she confirmed on Saturday.

At a caucus of Ward 15 Democrats, St. Fleur said she no longer wanted the job. "I don't want to be in the way of anyone," she said. "The job can't be done halfhearted."

She noted that she has one daughter in college, another "on her way," and a son about to start high school. "So it's time for transitions," she said.

The move opens up a seat that St. Fleur has held since a 1999 special election. She has held a variety of titles, including vice chair of the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee and the Education Committee. She was also briefly a candidate for lieutenant governor on a joint ticket with gubernatorial candidate Thomas Reilly in 2006, until media reports of financial problems forced her to withdraw.

Those who know St. Fleur, who was sent to the Consumer Protection Committee as punishment for not taking a side in the recent battle for speaker of the House, say that she has grown to dislike the job and has been itching to leave. During the U.S. Senate election, she told Democratic Party officials that she was interested in replacing U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, who lost the Democratic primary to Attorney General Martha Coakley in December.

During her caucus remarks, St. Fleur turned to a reporter and said, "No...I don't have a job," an apparent reference to the rampant rumors that she has a position lined up within Mayor Thomas Menino's administration. Menino and St. Fleur are said to be close friends, and St. Fleur was a tenacious campaigner for Menino during his re-election fight last year.

Said Congressman Capuano, when it was his turn to speak: "I know you'll be doing something that helps people."

Speculation about her future mounted this week as day after day went by without St. Fleur pulling nomination papers to run for the Fifth Suffolk seat. (Staffers originally said she had been busy with a trip to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.)

The field of potential candidates to replace St. Fleur includes Carlos Henriquez, a community activist who has twice unsuccessfully run against District 7 Councillor Chuck Turner; Barry Lawton, a high school teacher and Democratic State Committee member who challenged St. Fleur unsuccessfully in the 1999 special election; unenrolled candidate Steve Wise; and perennial candidate Althea Garrison.

Both Lawton and Henriquez appeared at the Ward 15 Democratic caucus at Savin Hill Apartments. Lawton had his two children in tow and wearing "Barry Lawton for State Representative" buttons.

"Government is stuck right now," and needs "young people to elbow some of the old folks out," St. Fleur told Ward 15 activists and elected politicians in the room, including Congressmen Capuano and Stephen Lynch, state Rep. Marty Walsh, former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie.

St. Fleur said she was proud of several accomplishments during her ten-year tenure, including the creation of the Department of Early Education and Care and protecting aspects of bilingual education. (Indeed, St. Fleur supporters often point to a July 2003 speech she gave on the House floor in support of bilingual education, in which she easily switched between English, French and French-Creole.)

"I thank you from the bottom of my heart," she told Ward 15 party activists.

"I won't be a stranger," she promised.

On her way out of the caucus, St. Fleur declined to comment and pointed to her remarks to the crowd.