5 Reps Who Could Succeed House Speaker Gordon Fox
Saturday, March 22, 2014
PLEASE NOTE: This article originally was published in October 6 of 2012.
State Representative J. Patrick O’Neill’s decision to resign from his post as House Majority Whip has kicked off speculation that House Speaker Gordon Fox (providing he wins his race against Mark Binder) may have a challenger for the state’s most powerful job come January.
Although O’Neill has suggested he is not interested in taking on Fox, his name has long been thrown around as a potential successor down the line along with the likes of House Finance Chairman Helio Meilo.
So who execatly may be interested in taking a shot at the Speakership in the future? GoLocalProv breaks down five potential contenders.
1) Helio Melo -> The House Finance chairman emerged as the favorite the succeed Speaker Fox whenever he eventually steps away last session and not much appears to have changed. The East Providence Democrat is well-liked and is said to have the support of political kingmaker George Caruolo. He is unlikely to run against Fox, but would certainly be a contender if it were an open seat.
2) J. Patrick O’Neill -> He might be saying he isn’t interested in taking on the Speaker, but State House folks aren’t necessarily buying it. O’Neill likely has enough votes to make things close and if the Speaker is perceived as vulnerable thanks to a closer district race than he expected, more Representatives could jump ship.
3) John DeSimone -> The veteran Rep. always likes to mix it up and is not a stranger to taking on a sitting Speaker. In the ‘90s, DeSimone often clashed with former Speaker John Harwood and in 2004, he took on Speaker William Murphy and lost. While he would be an underdog against Fox, he might be the most likely candidate to make a play at the job.
4) Stephen Ucci -> The Johnston Rep. is considered a Fox loyalist, but he’s also a rising star who would certainly be in the mix if Fox were not around. If Fox sticks around, look for Ucci, who controls a lot of votes in the House, to play a prominent role on his leadership team.
5) Nicholas Mattiello -> It’s no secret that Fox and the House Majority leader don’t always see eye-to-eye, but it’s unclear whether Mattiello would ever make a run at the Speakership. The Cranston Rep. has the ability to pick up votes from many of the more conservative Democrats in the House and might even be considered the best option by some of the Republicans.
Everything in the State House is a numbers game and if anyone is going to successfully take on the Speaker, they might have to cut a deal with House Minority Leader Brian Newberry. Heading into the election, the GOP controls seven seats (two Republicans retired), but if they can pick up nine or ten wins in November, there will be no way to defeat the Speaker without their support.