Reps. Reilly, Melo won’t seek re-election

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – With General Assembly leaders aiming to finish this year’s session on Friday, the biennial drumbeat of legislative retirement announcements is picking up speed.

Rep. Daniel P. Reilly
Rep. Daniel P. Reilly

Rep. Daniel P. Reilly, R-Portsmouth, confirmed Thursday night he will not seek re-election this fall. Reilly, 26, told Eyewitness News he recently accepted a new job as an associate at a law firm in Providence and needs to devote his time there. He is also getting married in August.

“I have been honored to serve my constituents over two terms and have loved every minute of serving in the House,” Reilly said in an email. “I am immensely grateful to my fiancée, family, friends and my constituents in Portsmouth and Middletown who have made my time serving so much more enjoyable.”

Reilly, who represents House District 72, first won election in in 2010. He lost his re-election bid to Democrat Linda Finn in 2012, but two years later he mounted a successful comeback. Finn is already seeking to reclaim the seat this November.

Rhode Island’s heavily outnumbered House Republicans currently control 12 of the 75 seats in the chamber, and Reilly’s decision means they will now have to hold an open seat in a swing district.

Rep. Helio Melo
Rep. Helio Melo

Also on Thursday, Rep. Helio Melo, D-East Providence, announced he will not seek another term in November. “It is time for me to step aside and let someone else take on these duties,” he wrote on Facebook, noting he has been in the General Assembly since 2005 and before that served on the school committee.

Melo, 48, was a powerful figure during the speakership of Gordon Fox, serving as chairman of the budget-writing House Finance Committee and discussed as a potential future speaker himself. But when Fox resigned abruptly in 2014, his successor Nicholas Mattiello sacked Melo and replaced him with Ray Gallison. (Gallison is under investigation and resigned suddenly last month.)

Democrats appear well-positioned to hold Melo’s seat in House District 64. He ran unopposed four straight times between 2006 and 2012, and won re-election with 76% of the vote against a Republican opponent in 2014.

Rep. Karen MacBeth, a Cumberland lawmaker who became a Republican earlier this year, and Sen. Ed O’Neill, a Lincoln independent who formally joined the Republican Party recently, have also said they will not run again this fall.

Would-be candidates for office in Rhode Island must declare that they’re running later this month by pulling papers between June 27 and 29.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes The Saturday Morning Post and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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