UPDATED: Mattiello & Shekarchi Win Reelection to House Leadership, Coalition Calls for Rule Changes

Friday, November 09, 2018


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Speaker Nick Mattiello

The House Democratic Caucus has reelected a leadership slate, headed by Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello for the 2019 Session. The official vote for Speaker is taken by all 75 House members on the first day of the new session on January 1, 2019.

There will be 66 Democrats in the House for the new session, a gain of two seats.

House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi was re-elected at an organizational meeting tonight at Chapel Grille. 44 representatives voted in support of the Mattiello team. Other members of the leadership slate are: Representatives John G. Edwards, Majority Whip; Christopher R. Blazejewski, Deputy Majority Whip; Charlene M. Lima, Deputy Speaker; Brian P. Kennedy, Speaker Pro Tem; and Grace Diaz, Democratic Caucus Chairwoman.

Mattiello failed to get the support of 21 Democrats and it is unknown if the 9 Republican members of the House will vote for him as Speaker in January.

And while Mattiello and Shekarchi were being reelected a group of leaders of a broad coalition of organizations issued a joint statement blistering Mattiello’s reelection. “We cannot sit by and watch Nicholas Mattiello once again be elected the Speaker of the House without calling out his failings as a leader of the RI House of Representatives. His attacks on immigrants, women, and members of the media should disqualify him from serving as the leader of the Democratic caucus."

“His disregard for democracy in the RI House of Representatives certainly should disallow him from serving as its Speaker.  An ever-growing number of citizens, organizations, and representatives demand better,” said the coalition comprised of RI Now, RI Latino PAC, Young Democrats of RI, and the Woman Project.

“Prior to Election Day, eighteen Representatives announced that if Mattiello won his reelection bid they would not support him as speaker for the 2019 Legislative session. We are proud to support those Representatives who are standing up for a more democratic House, and we are deeply disappointed in members who we have kept quiet, or worse have already pledged their continued support for Mattiello.  We want them to know that their silence and support for Mattiello means they are complicit in his bullying tactics, racist messaging while campaigning, covering up of sexual harassment, and disdain for the free press,” said the Group.

Call for reforms

“Our organizations are calling for the following basic reforms to make the RI House of Representatives function as a working democracy. We propose increasing committee power. Currently, the Speaker has absolute control of which bills do and don’t leave committee. Countless bills never make it out of committee despite popular support by the majority of Representatives and their constituents. No one person should control the fate of all bills. Additionally, there should be reasonable time for Representatives to review amendments to bills. Currently, the rushed practice at the end of session diminishes the overall quality of bills and forces Representatives to vote on many important statewide issues without time to properly consider the language of those laws” said the coalition

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House Majority Leader Joe Shekarchi

Mattiello and Shekarchi thank supporters

“I am humbled to have the support of the Democratic members of the caucus,” said Speaker Mattiello (D-District 15, Cranston). “The November election is behind us and it’s time to focus on the governing of our state. I will work collaboratively with all of our members in continuing to move this state forward with a pro-economy, pro-jobs and pro-education agenda.”

Shekarchi (D-District 23, Warwick) will serve as Majority Leader for a second term. “I thank the members of the caucus for re-electing me and the entire leadership team,” said Leader Shekarchi. “I pledge to continue to work with everyone, inside and outside the StateHouse, to keep us on a path toward economic prosperity for all.”

This story was first published 11/8/18 8:30 PM This story was updated at 5:30 AM on November 9, 2018.


Related Slideshow: Election Night 2018: Photos of Democratic Heaven and GOP Hell in RI


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