R.I. majority leader becomes speaker of the House

Nicholas Mattiello defeats Michael Marcello to become 223rd speaker of the House

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, was elected to serve as speaker of the House Tuesday afternoon, replacing Rep. Gordon Fox, D-Providence, who resigned the position March 22. Federal and state officials raided Fox’s Statehouse office and personal home March 21, though no information has been released regarding the investigation.

Mattiello was elected with 61 votes, exceeding the required 38 votes — a simple majority of the 75-member House — by 23 votes, the Providence Journal reported. The speakership is highly coveted in Rhode Island politics, and Fox’s departure “triggered a fierce scrum for the job commonly referred to as the most powerful in state politics,” the Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

Since Mattiello’s appointment to the speakership, there have been other leadership changes in the House. Mattiello appointed several new representatives to different committees, including Rep. Cale Keable, D-Burrillville and Glocester, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Raymond Gallison Jr., D-Bristol and Portsmouth, as chairman of the House Finance Committee and Rep. Robert Craven, D-North Kingstown, as chairman of the Municipal Government Committee, according to a General Assembly press release. Keable replaces Rep. Edith Ajello, D-Providence, who has served as chair of the Judiciary Committee since 2011 and represents the district home to Brown.

Rep. Joseph Almeida, D-Providence, was elected deputy majority whip following Mattiello’s election as speaker March 25, the Journal reported.

Mattiello’s primary challenger was Rep. Michael Marcello, D-Scituate, who received just six votes. Marcello acknowledged his relatively unpopular position Tuesday before the 4 p.m. House vote, saying, “I do not have the votes to be the next speaker of the Rhode Island House,” the Journal reported. Two voting House members were absent and six abstained.

As speaker of the House, Mattiello said he is “going to take a comprehensive look at taxes, the state budget, spending (and) … business regulation,” the Journal reported. “We all have our personal opinions and beliefs, but I am going to have an evidence-based approach.”

Many state residents have been disheartened by Fox’s sudden fall, citing hopes that Rhode Island had outgrown its days of political scandal and corruption, the Globe reported.

As of this weekend, details about potential allegations against Fox were scarce, with search warrants and affidavits having been “sealed by a court,” the Globe reported last week.


-With additional reporting by Kate Kiernan