In an effort to align his campaign with the wave of public anger at incumbents, John Silber, the Democratic nominee for governor of Massachusetts, has embraced term limitation of elected officials, calling for a three-term cap on service in the state Legislature.
"These reforms will handcuff the special interests and free our legislators from the burden of legislative careerism and its inevitable entanglements with the private interests that are required to finance long-term legislative careers," said Silber, on a leave from the presidency of Boston University to make his first run for political office.
In Massachusetts, the 160 House members and 40 senators are elected every two years, and the Legislature sits year-round. Silber also proposed to limit the legislative session to six months.
Silber, who is in a tight race with Republican William Weld, made his proposals in a speech that emphasized his opposition to Question 3, a ballot initiative that would roll back state taxes and fees to 1988 levels. Weld has made his support for Question 3 a centerpiece of his campaign.
Until this week, Silber had ignored discussing a limit on legislative sessions, which was proposed by Silber's primary opponent, former state attorney general Francis X. Bellotti.
But in the Sept. 18 primary, Massachusetts voters turned out every prominent incumbent on the ballot, and most analysts said the results were an index of public distrust of politicians.
Silber, who calls himself an "outsider," appeared to be tapping into that sentiment with his call for term limits. He did not, however, suggest that the number of terms a governor serves be limited.