Moore: Progressives Seek to Dethrone Nick Mattiello


It’s good to be king. Or is it?

Maybe not. 

That’s because House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is under siege.

But the attack isn’t merely coming from the right. The more dangerous, existential threat comes from his left.

Obviously, the attack from the right is the more immediate threat. Let there be no doubt: Mattiello has problems in his own district.

Republican Steve Frias, Rhode Island GOP National Committeeman who only lost to the House Speaker by less than 100 votes (and won the polling places only to lose the election due to mail ballots), seems to be gearing up to challenge him yet again.

Frias has already been seen out campaigning as early as last fall, particularly on the issue of the Pawtucket Red Sox stadium–an issue that, apparently, western Cranston residents who reside in their district aren’t too keen on.   

The House Speaker, however, will rely on the same campaign playbook he so deftly employed to eak out his victory last time around.

Frias Tries Again?

Namely, he’ll secure a large amount of community grants to help out the nonprofit organizations in his district. He’ll outspend Frias to get his message out. And he’ll enlist a large number of volunteers to help him canvass the district.

It may, once again, be enough. Particularly if the House of Representatives doesn’t move on a plan to subsidize a new baseball stadium for the millionaire owners of the team. Inaction on that particular issue would certainly take the wind out of Frias’ sails.

Yet even if he is successful in once again winning his own state representative seat, it appears that his, and every other political moderate in the House of Representatives days are numbered–at least so far as leadership positions are concerned.  

The so-called Rhode Island Progressives are circulating a “Progressive Values Pledge” to candidates that have declared to run for the Rhode Island General Assembly. (First tweeted by RI National Public Radio’s Ian Donnis.)

A New Communist Manifesto

The pledge sounds like something straight out of The Communist Manifesto. It seeks to make Rhode Island a place with unfettered access to abortions, elections without integrity (thanks to lack of voter id), (yet provide driver’s licenses for illegal aliens) a single payer health care system, and “free” college education. (If college education will be “free”, does that mean that the teachers will work for nothing?)

Basically, the pledge would make everything free for people who don’t work. Who is going to pay for this stuff? Don’t ask me, since there will be no incentive to actually work.

But what’s most telling about this “pledge”, is that the very first item, is a promise to NOT support House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio as well).

That’s a pretty brazen declaration of war.

It should be interesting to see how much longer Speaker Mattiello kowtows to this group of people.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

The progressives are not a group that can be reasoned with since they’re ideological purists. Once they gain a concession, they immediately begin strategizing their next attack. They won’t stop until they control the state legislature completely.

They will eventually get it, unless the people who are politically moderate stand up to them.

I’m not certain if Speaker Mattiello realizes this or not. On one hand, he’s a smart person. None of this is hard to understand.

On the other hand, he seems to think he can co-opt them. For instance, he has Chris Blazejewski as a member of his leadership team.

Will Mattiello continue to make deals with people who would see him ousted?

It will be interesting to see this year’s developments in the state legislature.

Updated: An earlier version of this column incorrectly referred to Steve Frias as the former RI GOP National Committeeman. Frias is currently the National Committeeman. 

Russell Moore
I like writing, reading, horse racing, basketball, football, tennis, poker, shooting dice, and nerd stuff. You should definitely follow me on twitter @russmoore713. If you want to send me email in order to tell me how great I am, you can do that at