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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.

Wild Card

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.


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Democrats have controlled our state for 75 years. How do you like the end result?

Comment #1 by Chris MacWilliams on 2012 10 06

Conservatives has controlled the state for the last ten years...how do you like the result. The problem with Republicans is that they want to do what Democrats have done and do it twice as hard.

And then they wonder why people don't vote for them.....

Comment #2 by Malachi Constant on 2012 10 06

I would not vote Helio Melo the chief architect of this GA budget as dog catcher. And his association with George Caruolo doesn't improve his standing....Interesting his wife works in the Cranston office of Jack Reed. HMMMMMM does that mean anything I wonder in his push for Speaker? We all know how RI works...Nothing would surprise me on this issue...
He also was part of the leadership who helped pass the Pension reform changes.....and he by the way never gave up his COLA...
Helio Melo along with his leadership lawyer fellow Democrat buddies- Fox-Mattiello- plus lawyers Brian Newberry and Paiva Weed who make their 6 figure lawyer salaries, kept the 3.2% raise.
Interesting that RI taxpayers are on the hook for over $102 million for the blunder of these self serving politicians because of the Curt Schilling 38 Studio fiasco and none of them even so much gets a slap on the hand for the financial damage they have done to RI's economy.
Vote these people out....Do not vote back in those people who threw you under the bus and are still throwin gyou under the bus with the International Institute scam down at URI and other EDC blunders, and writing off loans when their friends can't pay them...
This behavior has to end...RI voters need to wake up..WE NEED TERM LIMITS BY REFERENDUM. No law maker will do this on their own. it limits their power and control and cronyism for being in the GA for years and years....Vote these incumbents out.....

Comment #3 by ella mentry on 2012 10 06

This place smells like the landfill. The stench is the old holdovers from over 12 years. Get them out, they don't represent you anymore. It's time to break up this club.

Comment #4 by Gov- stench on 2012 10 06

@Malachi Constant, You clearly have not done your homework or are just lying. The Democrats have controlled the RI General Assembly for over 75 years. Currently they control 90% of the legislature and all 4 seats in Washington.

Most of these Democrats are far from conservative. What have they done every year-


Republicans voted to take $2.6 million away in legislative grant money and use it to restore cuts made to the developmentally disabled as an amendment to the budget and the Democrats voted NO!

Republicans voted against the budget that contained new taxes on clothing, pet-grooming and taxi-cabs and Democrats voted for it.

The Democrats have absolute power and control of RI and have taken us down the abyss! We are ranked at or near the bottom in every key category! Several of our cities and towns are staring into the face of possible bankruptcy! Central Falls may have been only the first!
Want facts to back this up, www.rirankslast.com

The icing on the cake this week: Citing differences with House Speaker Gordon Fox, Representative J. Patrick O’Neill (D-Pawtucket) has resigned as Majority Whip for the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He cited the fact that the Democrat leadership had no plan.

Democrat leadership in the General Assembly has no plans to fix Rhode Island. Is anyone surprised?

Comment #5 by Rhode Island Republican Strike Force on 2012 10 07

Gordon Fox will remain comfortably rooted in his position. ONeil did what any intelligent person might do when given notice that they are about to be fired: resign. It happens every day in the real world and gave him the opportunity to a) leave with dignity, and b) take a public swipe at Gordon.

Comment #6 by Edward Smith on 2012 10 07

how about a fresh face with new ideas and leadership,John Lombardi!

Comment #7 by anthony sionni on 2012 10 07

Malachi, are you crazy? The Republicans have controlled nothing in the State. Do you need a lesson in how Government works? The GA runs this place, not the Governor...

McCauley (D)
Celona (D)
Martineau (D)
Irons (D)
Ruggerio (D)

Unfortunately, the general public in Rhode Island is not swift enough to see a pattern.

Without balance and parity in the GA, our situation will never improve. The D's will continue to represent only themselves.

Comment #8 by David Allen on 2012 10 08

What is the difference, it will be the same self serving circus. Only the head clown will be different.

Comment #9 by Robert Anthony on 2014 03 23


Comment #10 by LENNY BRUCE on 2014 03 23

the problem with the speakers office is when it develops into a dictatorship as it has under fox and many others in the past.

in the beginning, there are factions that can prevent total control by the speaker but over time, favors are given ,etc and the factions break down and eventually you a dictator running the legislature. if you break the rules, you are exiled.

it's a shame that people don't see this facet of fox for what it is. he shut down opponents, everything is decided behind closed doors,
sadly, there is no meaningful open debate in his legislature. nothing flies without his say so, regardless of the rest of the GA.

the absolute hypocrisy of the man and his agenda is his imaging as a so called "democratic working man" and the bill to revise the check cashing business for the benefit of the "democratic working man" never even makes it out of committee year after year.

sadly, many of his supporters are "single issue voters" who cared for nothing other than gay rights and tossed all the other issues including job development in ri, education, ethical conduct, etc out the window.

regardless of who the next speaker is, there will be factions which allow those that wish to fairly participate in government may do so.
whether they fall into the trap like others past remains to be seen.

Comment #11 by john paycheck on 2014 03 23

Malachi is right. The GA has had a conservative bent in it's leadership for decades. At least a quarter of current Democrats in the GA would be considered Republicans in any other state. Republicans cannot win here because the national Republican party is an utter disaster which leads the local party to be irrelevant. Looking at the voting records, almost all social conservatives that are elected are Democrats. They run as Democrats out of convenience and brand recognition. I would urge those who believe otherwise to check an individuals voting records of a handful of Democrats to see the different factions.

Comment #12 by Kendrick Jones on 2014 03 23

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