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Gordon Fox wants to maintain the speakership in 2013

January 6, 2012

House Speaker Gordon Fox says he has no plans to relinquish what’s often called the most powerful job in state government — provided he wins reelection in November.

Regarding the next vote for speaker — in January 2013, Fox says, “I’m definitely running for reelection.”

“I think ultimately it’s going to be the say of the members, how long they want me to stick around,” he says. “I still have a lot of work to do. I love the job, I love being a state representative, I love representing the people of District 4. I think I have some ideas and some leadership to offer.”

Knocking down occasional rumors that he might give up the gavel to focus more on his law practice, Fox says he hopes to remain the leader of the House for some time to come (noting that he has to first win reelection to his representative seat in November):

 How many years, what it will be — I’m going to do one step at a time — reelection, relection for speaker, and see where it goes.

Fox’s predecessor, William Murphy of West Warwick, was the first in a string of recent speakers to leave on his own timetable while avoiding controversy or scandal.

Murphy once suggested a self-imposed eight-year term limit as speaker. Although he later backtracked, Murphy stuck to that, passing the gavel to his majority leader, Fox, in 2010. Fox then won the speakership on his own in 2011.

The speaker appears to have a strong hold on his power. One of his past rivals for the speakership, Representative Gregory Schadone, has credited Fox with exceeding expectations. And Fox and his Senate counterpart, Teresa Paiva-Weed, have won broad plaudits — including in a ProJo editorial cartoon this week — for supporting the state’s new pension law.

Fox tells me his greatest long-term priority is improving education in Rhode Island.

Still, some things never change much in Rhode Island; one of the observations I wrote about in describing Speaker Murphy about five years back remains just as valid today:

Until Rhode Island’s leaders help put the state on a stronger long-term economic footing, their greatest challenges will remain ahead.

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