'Too independent' Rep. Lima replaced as House deputy speaker by Shekarchi
House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi named Rep. Ray Hull deputy speaker Tuesday, replacing the previous holder of the post, Rep. Charlene Lima, after she broke with party leadership on a number of issues.
Hull, a Providence Democrat and city police officer, is believed to be the first Black deputy speaker. The deputy speaker and speaker pro tempore fill in leading House sessions when the speaker leaves the chamber.
Hull had been chairman of the House Municipal Government Committee. That committee will now be led by Rep. Stephen Casey of Woonsocket.
"Our state is facing numerous issues and challenges and I am eager to further serve the people of Rhode Island as their new Deputy Speaker,” Hull said in a news release.
The naming of new leadership posts and committee chairmanships after elections every two years often reflects how particular lawmakers fall in and out of favor with the speaker.
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Hull was part of former speaker Nicholas Mattiello's leadership team, but broke with him on truck tolls and became a member of a dissident Democratic House faction before Mattiello failed to win reelection in 2020. When Shekarchi was elected speaker in 2021, he brought Hull back into the fold.
Lima says she was too independent for current leadership
By her count, Lima said she has been kicked out of leadership at least three times since being elected to the House in 1992.
On this occasion, she said there was no single issue that caused a rift with Shekarchi.
"He made it clear I was too independent, too vocal about my independence and was not necessarily in line with his preferences," Lima said. "I never changed my stance on things, but Shekarchi did."
Lima was one of the more conservative members of Democratic House leadership, more in line ideologically with Mattiello than Shekarchi.
"Under Mattiello, [Shekarchi] would go along with more conservative issues, which I understand because he was on the team and that’s what he had to do to move up," Lima said. "The only thing I was disappointed in is the speaker said he was being left out of things under Mattiello, and left me out."
Lima joined a Republican effort to stop COVID masking in schools last year and she broke with leadership to vote against a ban on high capacity firearm magazines.
"The criminals say thank you," Lima said about the bill last year before it passed.
She also supported a challenger to Democratic incumbent Rep. Brandon Potter in last year's election after taking out a newspaper advertisement seeking someone to run against him.
Now that she is no longer in leadership, there are fewer reasons for Lima to hold back speaking her mind.
"It is very liberating," she said.
Other House committee assignments
In other House assignments Tuesday, Rep. Arthur Corvese, D-North Providence, was named chairman of the Labor Committee, replacing Anastasia WIlliams, who lost her primary last year. Corvese had been the Rules Committee chairman, a position now held by Rep. Kathy Fogarty.
Rep. Susan Donovan, D-Bristol, replaces Casey as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.
Rep. Jaqueline Baginski, D-Cranston, was named chair of the Innovation, Internet & Technology Committee replacing Deborah Ruggiero, who ran for lieutenant governor.
And Rep. Karen Alzate, D-Pawtucket, was named chair of the Special Legislation Committee, replacing Fogarty.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Rep Charlene Lima replaced as House deputy speaker by Shekarchi