CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) — Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello was narrowly re-elected in his district Tuesday after an organized effort to oust him.
Cranston voters returned Mattiello to the House on Tuesday over Republican Steven Frias. The state elections board added partial mail ballot results to their count late Tuesday, putting Mattiello ahead by more than 300 votes.
It was a rematch from 2016, when Frias lost by 85 votes.
Mattiello, one of Rhode Island’s most powerful politicians, campaigned on his successes as speaker, including phasing out the car tax.
The Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence had encouraged Cranston residents to vote him out. The traditionally Democrat-aligned groups wanted Mattiello to address women’s rights and extend the time limit for filing child abuse lawsuits, among other issues. Mattiello has also recently faced criticism over how he has handled sexual harassment claims at the state house.
Mattiello, who was first elected in 2006, said his new opponents were “extreme progressive groups.”
Tricia Hayden was among a number of Cranston residents who cast a vote for Mattiello but also signaled displeasure with the state’s other Democratic leaders by voting for Republican Cranston Mayor Allan Fung for governor.
Hayden said she voted for Mattiello because of his promise to repeal the car tax.
“That’s a big thing that I support,” she said, adding, “He’s also our neighbor and our friend. He’s doing a great job.”
Conceding defeat, Frias said: “I’m sorry I let you all down. I really did try my best. I gave voters a choice, and they chose the status quo.”
Mattiello had said he plans to hold a caucus of House Democrats on Thursday night to vote for speaker. Several Democratic lawmakers have said they would not back him for speaker again.