Republican concedes defeat to RI’s Democratic House speaker

By: News Staff

ABC6 NEWS/The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Republican who tried to unseat Democratic Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has conceded defeat.

Steven Frias announced in a press release on Tuesday that he would not seek to delay certification of the results. A recount in the Cranston district showed Mattiello ahead by 85 votes.

Frias also says in his statement that he accepts the decision by state police last week to close the investigation into his allegations of ballot fraud and voter intimidation. Police said there wasn’t evidence to support the complaint.

Frias says he believes his run made an impact because Mattiello promised during the campaign to phase out the car tax.

Democratic lawmakers had already moved on. They unanimously nominated Mattiello to be speaker again when lawmakers convene in January.

Here’s the statement Frias released Tuesday putting an end to the battle between him and Speaker Mattiello:

I accept the State Police’s recent decision to close its investigation into the incident involving Mr. Winkler’s mail ballot. I would like to thank Mr. Winkler for having the courage to come forward to tell me, a reporter and the State Police what occurred to him. I know Mr. Winkler had no reason to deceive anyone as to what occurred regarding his mail ballot unlike the Mattiello campaign operatives involved in the incident. Also, although the Board of Elections has yet to provide access to all of the mail ballot envelopes in this race so that some type of review into the possible false notarization or witnessing of mail ballots could occur, I will not attempt to seek a delay in the certification of the results in this race. After five months of being focused on this race, it is time for me to concede the election. 

I am proud of the honest campaign I conducted. I am grateful for all the support I received and continue to receive from people I see every day. My only regret is that I fell just short of ending the status quo at the State House. Still, the voters of District 15 sent a powerful message on election night. Despite the enormous resources at Speaker Mattiello’s disposal, he could not gain the support of a majority of the voters in his own district. When I decided to run against Speaker Mattiello, I hoped to defeat him and bring dramatic change to the State House or to come close enough so as to impact State House policies. Although I may have lost by one percent, I believe I have already succeeded in making impact as shown by Mattiello’s campaign promise to phase out the car tax after he opposed efforts to do so in the past. I hope in the next two years, Speaker Mattiello recognizes that the people want change, and that he pushes to enact significant tax relief and clean government reforms. If Mattiello refuses to bring change, I expect the voters will eventually make a change as to whom they want representing them at the State House. 

©WLNE-TV / ABC6 2016