Democrats to caucus for house leadership roles

Majority Leader Joe Shekarchi is seen as a top candidate for the Speaker of the House.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – With Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello voted out of his seat in the House of Representatives, that means a new representative will be vying for that powerful role in the General Assembly.

So far there are two candidates for the position of House Speaker and legislators are already announcing who they’re backing.

To get that job, a lot of deals are made among house members.

“The candidates for speaker will jockey for position, and what they’ll be promising people in order to get votes is – you want to be chair of a certain committee, certain rules governing how legislation will pass,” said Providence College Political Science Professor Tony Affigne.

Affigne says the legislators will work to gain the trust of their colleagues and the winner will be someone who can work well with senate leadership, and the governor.

“Some legislators will be looking for a bill that they’ve introduced for four sessions, and Mattiello bottled it up – they want that bill approved. Other legislators are going to want a better parking space. Other legislators are going to want legislative grants for non-profit organizations in their districts,” said Affigne.

House Majority Leader Joe Shekarchi from Warwick is seen as a top candidate to be the next speaker.

He announced Wednesday he’ll be going for the position with Representative Chris Blazejewksi as Majority Leader.

Already dozens of legislators have announced their support for Shekarchi.

Barrington progressive democrat Liana Cassar announced prior to Tuesday’s election that she’s interested in the position as well.

“If there are three or four candidates, they’re not all going to go all the way to the vote,” said Affigne. “They’re going to jockey a little bit, and one or two are going to gravitate to the person who looks like he or she is going to win.”

Representative Cassar tells me she just presented to the Republican Caucus Wednesday night.
In a statement she said in part, “The people of Rhode Island deserve better than business as usual.”

And in his own statement, Leader Shekarchi said in part, “I am committed to bringing reform to the chamber and empowering its elected members.”

House democrats will meet to caucus in Warwick Thursday night.

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