House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is recommending state Representative Joseph McNamara (D-Warwick) as the next chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party.
McNamara was first elected in 1994 and chairs the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee, although he may be best known for championing a bill to make calamari the state's official appetizer. The legislation became law this year, after dying in the state Senate in 2013.
According to a release from RI Democrats, "The party is notifying its members that a State Committee meeting will be held on Thursday, October 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Cranston Portuguese Club, 20 Second Avenue, Cranston, for the purpose of electing a new chairman. A meeting notice from State Representative and party First Vice Chairwoman Grace Diaz, who is the acting party chair, is being mailed today."
The Democratic Party chairmanship has been vacant since former state Rep David Caprio abruptly resigned over the summer, amid a report by NBC10 that state police were investigating his involvement in a beach concessions contract. Caprio got the nod for the post after his predecessor, Ed Pacheco, left for a short-lived run for secretary of state.
In a statement, Mattiello said, “Joe McNamara is a dedicated, well-spoken and hard-working member of our party who will do a terrific job as chairman,” said Speaker Mattiello. “He recently retired after a distinguished career as an educator and he will have the time and energy to devote to the party.”
The speaker of the House traditionally has outsized influence in picking a party chair since state committee members are elected through House districts.
Mattiello said he considered it important to have a new chairman in place before a unity dinner at the West Valley Inn in West Warwick on October 14.