Pawtucket Sen. Jamie Doyle resigns, citing ‘my struggle with alcohol’

State Sen. Jamie Doyle, D-Pawtucket, talks to Eyewitness News on May 20, 2016.

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – State Sen. Jamie Doyle unexpectedly announced his immediate resignation on Tuesday, saying he is battling alcoholism.

“It is for personal reasons – caused by my struggle with alcohol – that I am resigning,” Doyle, D-Pawtucket, said in a statement. “Many of my close friends and colleagues knew that I took some time off last year. My intent was to come back to the Senate, but now is the time to focus on my recovery and on being healthy, and dedicating myself to my family.”

“I thank God for His grace and mercy, and for my family, friends, and neighbors,” he continued. “At this time, please allow for privacy as I move forward with the assistance of my family.”

Doyle’s resignation will trigger a special election to fill his seat in Senate District 8, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s office confirmed. The date of the election has not yet been set, but under state law it must take place within the next 70 to 90 days, meaning by early April.

Doyle, 45, is the son of the late Pawtucket Mayor James Doyle, who died last year. The younger Doyle was first elected to the Senate in 2004 and was currently serving as senior deputy majority leader. He told The Valley Breeze last month he was leaning against seeking re-election, acknowledging he had missed a considerable number of hearings over the past year.

“All of us in the Senate are thinking of Jamie and his family during this difficult time,” Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service to our state, and proud of him for taking the necessary steps to face his addiction. We wish him all the best in his recovery and in all of his future endeavors.”

Matthew Fecteau, a Democrat who ran against Doyle in 2016 after unsuccessfully challenging Congressman David Cicilline in 2014, had already announced plans to run for Doyle’s Senate seat again this fall.

“I want to first acknowledge these very difficult circumstances, and say I sincerely wish Senator Jamie Doyle the very best,” Fecteau wrote Tuesday afternoon on Facebook. “May god bless him, his family, and the Great state of Rhode Island.”

The Valley Breeze reported two other candidates, Pawtucket City Councilor Albert Vitali Jr. and Mark Theroux, are also expected to run.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook