Fourth Democrat says no to Mattiello

By Paul Zangari and Tessa Roy, WPRO News

Election season is still underway, but that hasn’t stopped some members of the Rhode Island House from distancing themselves from House Speaker Nick Mattiello. On Wednesday, Jamestown and Middletown Representative Deborah Ruggiero became the fourth Democrat to back away from supporting him for another term as Speaker.

“I don’t know who the Speaker will be. I have to evaluate choices, I have to win my election. But I do know who it’s not,” she said.

Ruggiero, who chairs the House Small Business Committee and is on the House Finance Committee, said the House needs a leadership team that is “focused on issues, respects women, and will bring bills to the floor in a timely matter.” She said she wants to see a change in the way the House does business, including more “professionalism, communication, and respect.”

“People should have time to review a Substitute A on a bill. I’d love to see some House rules change so that the constituents can read it online [and] the reps actually read it not just when it’s being submitted,” she said.

As for the handling of the PawSox, Ruggiero says she would have preferred to see the team stay – but was also for safeguarding taxpayers.

Mattiello campaign spokesperson Patti Doyle previously insisted to the Providence Journal that Mattiello has “overwhelming support” from House members. On Wednesday, she suggested Ruggiero “is blatantly misrepresenting the Speaker’s record of accomplishments for her own self interests and election preservation.”

“As the Speaker noted two days ago, we expect a few more progressives to voice opposition to his Speakership primarily because they are not part of the core group of House members who promote jobs and the economy.  Rep. Ruggerio is one such representative, so her opposition is not at all surprising. To suggest as she did, however, that this Speaker is not focused on women’s issues is disingenuous at best, and politics at its worst,” Doyle said. “In this last session alone, the Speaker fought for complete health insurance coverage for mastectomies. Further, he supported legislation to obtain one year of full birth control as opposed to going back every 30 days, and passed a version of pay equity legislation for women.”
The others on record saying they don’t want Mattiello to retain the Speakership are Providence Representative Moira Walsh, Barrington Representative Jason Knight, and Pawtucket Representative Mary Duffy Messier.