On Saturday over a dozen people canvassed the neighborhoods of Rhode Island State Representative Christopher Blazejewski (Democrat, District 2, Providence) to ask his supporters to reach out to their elected representative and encourage him to not vote for Representative Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston) as Speaker of the House, a position Mattiello has held for over two full terms.
Blazejewski is part of Mattiello’s leadership team, serving as Deputy Minority Whip. As part of that team, he is intimately involved in the decisions made by the Speaker, who is, by his own admission, very collaborative and constantly seeking the input of his leadership team and his fellow Representatives.
Organized by Rhode Islanders for Reform, canvassers went door to door asking if Blazejewski’s close working relationship with Mattiello has been as productive as Blazejewski has maintained. Blazejewski, in a form letter sent to constituents to explain his continued support for Mattiello, a conservative, anti-choice, pro-gun Democrat, writes:
“…over the past two years, I have co-sponsored and/or supported legislation to codify in state law women’s reproductive freedom, to ban guns from our schools and ban assault weapons, to protect our immigrant neighbors in schools and places of worship, to curb carbon emissions and stave off climate change, and to help abused and neglected immigrant children gain legal status…”
What Blazejewski fails to mention is that while he “co-sponsored and/or supported” such legislation, little of it was passed or was even brought to a vote by Mattiello, who maintains absolute control over all legislation in the House. Roe v Wade has not been codified into state law, guns are banned in schools via an executive order from Governor Gina Raimondo since the General Assembly failed to act, assault weapons are not banned in Rhode Island, and little has been done to curb carbon emissions (worse, the Speaker recently voiced support for Invenergy‘s fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant proposed for Burrillville). On the subject of immigration, the House has been weak, neglecting to grant licenses to undocumented immigrants but passing some limited protections for DACA recipients.
I walked with one of the canvassers, Alex Kithes, and coincidentally Kithes was assigned the neighborhood Blazejewski lives in. Many people expressed their disappointment with Blazejewski’s continued support of the Speaker and the Speaker’s actions in the last term. While everyone Alex talked to spoke positively of Blazejewski and his positions, they found his explanations as to why he supports the Speaker to be lacking. Even a woman who said she understood why Blazejewski supports the Speaker did not truly think that supporting the Speaker was a great idea.
Another woman expressed an interest in challenging Blazejewski in a primary if he doesn’t change his ways.
The last home canvassed was that of Patricia Brennan.
“He’s a good guy and he’s done a lot of good stuff and he’s voted on a lot of issues that have been important to me and he’s listened to me,” said Brennan. “I want him to know that people who support him, want him to support this.”
Brennan made a call to Blazejewski right there, on her doorstep, and graciously allowed me to record it:
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