Newberry: Someone else can be Minority Leader

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State Rep. Brian Newberry announced Friday he will be handing off the responsibility of leading House Republicans to another lawmaker next year.

Newberry, R-North Smithfield, is running unopposed in the fall – and wants to continue to be a lawmaker – but decided last year he’d walk away from the leadership position at the end of 2016.

“I don’t believe in term limits but I do believe leadership should not be stagnant; I think leadership should turn over,” Newberry said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “There is a lot of unglamorous administrative stuff – and I’m not complaining, I’m happy to do it – but I don’t have any great joy in it.”

As House minority leader, Newberry oversees the Republican House staff and acts as a liaison between Democratic lawmakers and his caucus. He is also charged with managing personalities within his own party.

“I am constantly mediating disputes between people and that’s part of the job, I think I’m good at it, and I’m happy to do it,” Newberry said. “But that grows tiring, too, because, again, that is not why I ran for office.”

Newberry said he is backing state Rep. Michael Chippendale, R-Foster, as the next minority leader. He said, as of now, Chippendale has the votes within the caucus to get the job.

Via text message, Chippendale confirmed he will be seeking the post at the start of the next session.

Another possibility is state Rep. Patricia Morgan, R-West Warwick, who Newberry said has made “no secret” of her desire to become GOP leader.

“I have a lot of respect for Patricia Morgan as a representative, she’s very passionate,” Newberry said. “You need to be able to mediate disputes among your own caucus members and build consensus, and that requires two skills that I don’t think Patricia has at all: diplomacy and tact.”

Morgan did not immediately return a call for comment.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

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