12 to Watch in 2012: J. Patrick O’Neill
Friday, December 30, 2011
The scuttlebutt is that House Majority WHIP J. Patrick O'Neill (D-District 59, Pawtucket), the ambitious 40-year-old lawyer, is laying the groundwork to overthrow House Speaker Gordon Fox in 2013 and this year will play a major role in determining whether he has the juice to make it happen.
There were rumors that he would attempt to take out Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello (D- District 15, Cranston), but several political insiders have confirmed O'Neill has hit eyes set on the top spot.
O'Neill has mostly kept a low profile during his four terms as a State Representative. In 2011, O'Neill led efforts to rearrange the jurisdictions of Rhode Island’s district courts and move the closing time for polls up to 8:00pm. In 2010, he sponsored legislation that prevents law enforcement agencies from using a quota system for traffic tickets. He currently has about $16,000 in his campaign account.
Of course, O'Neill may have other options in the next year as well. The Pawtucket politician could also look into running for Mayor, although Don Grebien is currently viewed to be relatively popular and would likely be difficult to defeat next year.
No matter what he decides, Rep. O'Neill is one state lawmaker worth keeping an eye on in 2012.
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