Key Mass. state senator stepping down

Updated:

BOSTON (AP) — State Sen. Jack Hart, a South Boston Democrat who was a key member of the Senate leadership team, is stepping down to enter private law practice.

Hart announced on Tuesday he was joining the Boston office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough.

The 51-year-old lawmaker planned to formally submit his resignation to the Senate later in the day. He was widely seen as a possible successor to Senate President Therese Murray, who is barred by term limits from serving in the post beyond March 2015.

Hart was elected to the House in 1996 and to the Senate in 2002. He played a key role in the revitalization of the South Boston waterfront and creation of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

He also served as host of the annual St. Patrick's Day Breakfast.

On his fan page, Micheal Flaherty congratulated Hart, adding that a decision to run for the first Suffolk Senate seat would come another day. So far, there is no word on a special election for Hart's seat or who will lead the St. Patty's Day breakfast.