The Massachusetts Port Authority next month will name the state's secretary of economic affairs, Stephen Tocco, as executive director, according to state officials.
Tocco, a member of Gov. William Weld's administration since January 1992, is considered one of the Republican governor's closest confidants. He is expected to take control of the post from current executive director Alden Raine, an appointee of former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, a Democrat.
Raine was unavailable for comment yesterday.
The authority's Board of Directors is expected to to approve the appointment at its July 27 meeting.
Weld has expressed interest in gaining control of the authority since he was inaugurated in January 1991. However, many of board members have served for more than 20 years, and they were appointed to terms that do not end for several years.
Last month, board member Jacquelyn Smith died of cancer. Weld appointed a longtime political ally, Kathlene Card, to fill Smith's post. Card's term will end next June.
Weld will be able to appoint another board member at the end of this month, when labor representative Charles Raso's term ends. Weld has announced his intention to name the president of Teamsters Local #25, George Cashman, to fill the post.
The appointment of Cashman, 44, would give control of the seven-member board to Weld appointees.
Cashman said that although he disagrees with some of Tocco's union views, he will be supportive of his nomination.
"Over the past couple of months, I've spent a good deal of time with Steve Tocco, and I believe he's the kind of person I will be able to deal with," Cashman said. "I told Gov. Weld I will support his candidacy."
Tocco has not always had the best relationship with organized labor in the state. In 1990, Tocco was removed from the Weld campaign team because of his stance against certain pro-union wage laws.
"Gov. Weld is very excited about Steve accepting the post," said Weld spokeswoman Virginia Buckingham. "He has been an integral cog in the economic recovery of the state."
Buckingham said the governor considers Massachusetts ports to be a crucial element in the state's economic improvement and wants the authority to focus on increasing their economic contribution.
The port authority has $349 million of uninsured debt and is rated AA-minus by Standard & Poor's Corp. and Aa by Moody's Investors Service.
Harvard professor and economist Michael Porter and administration adviser Steven Pierce have been rumored to be in line for Tocco's economic affairs post.