Raimondo loses ally, mentor with Paiva Weed’s departure, says former senator

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The recent departure of Rhode Island Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed took many by surprise.

Senate Democrats on Thursday formally chose Sen. Dominick Ruggerio – the General Assembly’s longest-serving member – as her replacement.

As majority leader, Ruggerio always kept an open door – regardless of party – according to former Republican state Sen. John Pagliarini.

“He would work across the aisle with you, and I understand why the chamber went and supported him,” Pagliarini said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers.

Paiva Weed was an ally to Gov. Gina Raimondo. Pagliarini said he believes there will be some common ground with Ruggerio, just maybe not as much.

“They are both about big projects,” said Pagliarini. “The Senate president is about the 195 project. On other issues, social and fiscal, that’s where he is going to be his own man.”

“I think what the governor has lost is a very good mentor,” he added.

Democratic party veteran and NEARI Executive Director Bob Walsh said Paiva Weed was helpful to Raimondo in navigating the legislature.

“It’s not like she’s going away,” Walsh said. “In fact, she might have more time to sit down and have a cup of coffee with the governor and say, talk about policy issues and say, ‘but by the way, if you really want to get it passed, here’s some good advice.'”

A special election will now be held in Newport to fill Paiva Weed’s Senate seat. Two Democrats have so far announced their candidacy: City Councilman John Florez and attorney Dawn Euer.