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Sen. Stephen Brewer will retire when his term expires at the end of 2014, after the Barre Democrat lost a power struggle last year against Majority Leader Sen. Stanley Rosenberg to succeed Senate President Therese Murray.
Brewer, who took over the budget-writing Senate Ways and Means Committee in 2010, has served as a top deputy to Murray with a hand in almost all major pieces of legislation to emerge from the Senate over the past four years. Murray is serving her last term as Senate president and hasn’t said whether she will move on from elected office.
But with Rosenberg preparing to take control of the Senate and Brewer’s place in the hierarchy uncertain after this year, the 65-year-old has decided to retire after serving in the Legislature for more than three decades.
Brewer arrived on Beacon Hill in 1988 when he was elected to the House of Representatives. He joined the Senate in 1997, where he has helmed various committees over the course of his career, including the Committees on Veterans and Federal Affairs and Natural Resources and Agriculture.
Rosenberg, who lives in Amherst, announced in July that he had secured enough votes among the current membership to succeed Murray when she leaves the Senate or is forced to relinquish her post due to term limits.
At the time, Brewer told the News Service he would "absolutely" be running for re-election in 2014, and said he had no doubt he would be able to work with the new Senate president.
"I'm a cancer survivor. Everyone knows that, and any cancer survivor will tell you that they live from doctor appointment to doctor appointment. I love what I do," Brewer said.
In his announcement Wednesday, Brewer said his long commute to and from Boston was a factor. He said he was “contemplating several ideas although nothing specific at this time. However, teaching, volunteering, travel, working with land trusts and learning the banjo hold specific appeal to me. I have a long bucket list.”
Brewer’s district encompasses 28 towns west of Worcester stretching from the Connecticut River to the New Hampshire borders.
Before his announcement, Brewer had already drawn two Republican challengers in his Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex district.
After his plans to retire were first reported Wednesday by Boston Magazine, Brewer took a full day before responding to the report, even as one of his opponents seized on the news.
“I want to wish Senator Stephen Brewer well in his future endeavors. In his eighteen years as a state senator and seven years as a state representative, he provided a model of constituent service for other elected officials to follow. As a citizen of the district, I thank him for such service. If elected to succeed him, I will look to his efforts as a guide as to how to provide such constituent service,” said James Ehrhard, a member of the Tantasqua Regional School Committee and owner of the law firm of Ehrhard & Associates P.C.
Ehrhard, of Sturbridge, said he and Brewer disagreed on the “proper balance between taxes and spending and the size of government in citizens’ lives.”
Michael Valanzola, who chairs the Tantasqua Regional School District and previously served as a Wales selectman for two terms, is also running in the Republican primary for Brewer’s seat.
In his statement, Brewer said facing opponents in November and the Senate presidency competition “had no bearing on my decision.”