One by one, Williams’ potential challengers disappear from the Senate

Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams’ hold over his top leadership post has been considered shaky for a while, leading to all sorts of delicious speculation about an exit strategy. Would he take the state auditor’s job? Would he get a job from the Malloy administration?

If so, who would move up in leadership? Andrew J. McDonald of Stamford? Donald J. DeFronzo of New Britain? Or maybe Thomas P. Gaffey of Meriden?

But when the 2011 edition of the General Assembly opens on Wednesday, Williams still will be there and the three senators most often mentioned as a potential successor will be gone. McDonald and DeFronzo are joining the Malloy administration, respectively, as general counsel and commissioner of administrative services.

Now, Gaffey is resigning and pleading guilty that day to misdemeanor larceny charges in connection with the double-billing of travel expenses.

That should quell those leadership rumors.