Pawtucket Sen. Doyle leans toward not running for 8th term

Pawtucket Sen. Doyle leans toward not running for 8th term

Sen. Jamie Doyle is about to enter his 14th year serving the people of District 8 in the Rhode Island Senate. Members of Senate leadership have asked him what his intentions are about running again, but he hasn’t yet given them an answer.

PAWTUCKET – Sen. Jamie Doyle, who’s about to enter his 14th year serving the people of District 8 in the Rhode Island Senate, says he’s “50-50” on whether he’ll run for the seat again in 2018. If anything, he said, “I’m probably leaning toward not.”

Rumors have swirled for much of the past year that this seventh term will be Doyle’s last, especially as the senator’s absences piled up on multiple Senate committees he serves on. Doyle has also taken some criticism behind the scenes for his lack of involvement in the hearing process for a new downtown baseball stadium; the Senate Finance Committee member has missed all of the finance hearings on the proposal. He has dozens of combined absences on the labor and finance subcommittees, according to General Assembly records.

Doyle told The Breeze this week that there are “a lot of great things about being in the Senate,” but his children are getting older, ages 11 and 9, and the demands of family life are becoming greater. His children are involved “in a ton of stuff,” he said, including baseball, hockey and cheerleading.

“As you get older, I think you realize what’s the most important thing,” he said. “I have a lot more important things in life.”

Being a member of the Senate requires someone to be “dedicated 100 percent of the time,” and “it’s not an easy business to be a public servant,” said Doyle.

There are only two people he’s dedicated to fully now, he joked, and those are his mom and his wife.

Doyle said he hadn’t been planning to run back in 2016, following the death of his father, former Pawtucket Mayor James Doyle, but then changed his mind. He remembers a close friend telling him that if he won, “it wasn’t going to be that great, and if you lose, it’s not going to be that bad.” That friend “was so, so right,” said Doyle.

The Pawtucket lawmaker said he’s been in office a long time.

“Sometimes some fresh blood is the best thing, but I haven’t made that decision,” he said.

Members of Senate leadership have asked him what his intentions are about running again, said Doyle, but he hasn’t yet given them an answer.

Doyle acknowledged the criticism on his absences, particularly from those who have run against him before. He said attendance records make an “easy target,” and he has no regrets about not being at the various meetings. Just because he hasn’t made it to meetings doesn’t mean he hasn’t cared or known about the matters discussed at the meetings, said Doyle.

“Not one thing goes on that I don’t know about,” he said. He said you can’t “live in the past” on such issues, and noted that he’s not a “two-year guy” in the Senate, having served since 2004.

There is no shortage of rumored challengers for the District 8 seat, which covers the northeast section of the city and runs into the downtown area, right up to the edge of the proposed stadium site.

Two candidates who ran against Doyle in a 2016 primary, Mark Theroux and Matthew Fecteau, have indicated that they plan to run again.

Fecteau, in an announcement of his intentions last week, said he plans to run for “working families” and “be a catalyst for change.” He said he “almost did the impossible” against Doyle in 2016, coming within 66 votes of beating him. He noted that he ran much of his campaign while being deployed, and is now home.

Doyle scored 946 votes in 2016, or 40.3 percent of the vote, Fecteau garnered 880 votes, or 37.5 percent, and Theroux secured 523 votes, or 22.3 percent.

Doyle famously issued a challenge to potential candidates when he voted for Gov. Gina Raimondo’s RhodeWorks tolling proposal in early 2016, responding to concerns from a local business owner by saying he planned to walk all of his district during the 2016 campaign after walking three-quarters of it in 2014 and securing 75 percent of the vote.

“They want to come after me? I’m going to walk it all this time,” he said from the Senate floor after his vote for the tolls.

The veteran senator said this week that he’ll continue to try to make a successful venture out of his business, Pawtucket-based Doyle Respiratory. His business debts have come under intense scrutiny over the past two years, particularly after a businesswoman took him to court over unpaid invoices.

Other rumored candidates for the Senate District 8 seat in 2018 include City Council members Sandra Cano and Albert Vitali Jr.

Comments

“it’s not an easy business to be a public servant,” said Doyle. Evidently it is easy being a public servant, especially when you get a paycheck for not showing up. Kind of like the people you've taken advantage of by not paying your bills. It's a good life being in the General Assembly isn't it Doyle?

I believe Sandra Cano would be a great asset for Pawtucket if she runs for the Senate Race. She would have a true voice for this City

French philosopher Joseph de Maistre once wrote, "Every nation gets the government it deserves"... Mr. Doyle, how can we miss you if you won't go away??