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settitasseyI ran down to the hastily called press conference at City Hall this morning. In a very brief statement Mayor Setti Warren announced that he will be stepping down from his office, effective May 1, to take the post of Ambassador to Israel. While the announcement took most people by surprise, it was apparently an open secret among his senior staff in recent weeks. Said Dori Zaleznik, the City’s Chief Admin Officer, “we knew he was in the running for the post once he asked us to begin contingency planning in case the job came through”.

The first hint of Warren’s resignation came at Monday’s opening of the Edward Kennedy Institute in Dorchester, where President Obama and Mayor Warren were spotted chatting together before the ceremony began.

Mayor Warren has long had a deep interest in Israel, has made two trips there during his time as mayor, and has established a working relationship with a number of Israeli government officials during his trade missions. He has also been a longtime supporter and campaigner for the Obama administration so it’s no surprise that he’s been tapped for this position.

Said Mayor Warren, “Tassy and I will certainly miss Newton and our friends here, but it is an exciting opportunity to help forge deeper, stronger ties between our two countries”.

Mayor Warren follows in a long line of Massachusetts officials who resigned to pursue diplomatic positions. Two back-to-back Mass governors resigned – William Weld to become ambassador to Mexico (though he was never confirmed by the US Senate) and Paul Celluci to become US Ambassador to Canada. Meanwhile Boston’s Mayor Ray Flynn resigned to become US Ambassador to the Vatican.

Where all this will get very interesting is – what happens next? Since there are three years left in Mayor Warren’s term, that means there will be a special election to name his successor. I’m not sure how quickly that can be organized, but I think if it doesn’t happen before May 1 when he resigns (unlikely), the City Council will have to elect an acting mayor until the general election is held.

So who do you think are the likely candidates in this upcoming mayoral election? Who do you think has the best shot at the moment? Are there any dark horse candidates on the horizon? Discuss!