The Women's Caucus of the Rhode Island Democratic Party said Wednesday it has the 60 votes needed from state committee members to convene an emergency party meeting seeking the ouster of Second Vice Chairman Joe DeLorenzo.
"The Democratic Party's bylaws state that when 60 members request an emergency meeting, the chair must schedule one within 21 days," the caucus said.
The move marks a clash between the Women's Caucus and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, who has tried to rebuff efforts to remove DeLorenzo as the Democratic Party's second vice chairman.
In a statement, the Caucus said those signing on to the effort include Gov. Gina Raimondo, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and U.S. Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin.
The collection of the 60 votes puts the issue in the hands of state Democratic Chairman Joseph McNamara, a state rep from Warwick and a close ally of Mattiello. Mattiello has effective control of the state Democratic Committee since its members are elected through state rep districts. McNamara declined comment when contacted by RI Public Radio.
DeLorenzo ignited a firestorm last week when he called progressives "left-wing whack jobs" and questioned state Rep. Teresa Tanzi's allegation of facing sexual harassment at the Statehouse. DeLorenzo later apologized after Mattiello asked him to do so. Chairman McNamara then issued a statement calling on Democrats to focus on healing divisions and turning to elections in 2018.
The Women's Caucus rejected DeLorenzo's apology and continued to insist that the 75-year-old former Cranston state representative resign from the party post he's held for more than 20 years.
The Caucus said it thanks "the hundreds of Democrats who signed petitions and made phone calls to our party to say Mr. DeLorenzo's disrespectful comments to not reflect the values of our party."
This post has been updated.