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House GOP Leader Filippi won’t run for governor in 2022

“I love representing South County,” the Block Island Republican said. “We have unfinished business up at the legislature.”

House Minority Leader Blake A. Filippi, a Block Island Republican.Handout (custom credit)/Blake Filippi

PROVIDENCE — House Minority Leader Blake A. Filippi, a Block Island Republican, on Friday announced he will not run for governor in 2022.

“Representing the people of Charlestown, Block Island, South Kingstown, and Westerly is the best job, one which I hope to continue in the years ahead,” Filippi tweeted. “I look forward to helping the Republican nominee for governor, and all Republicans up and down the ballot, in 2022.”

David A. Darlington – a North Kingstown Republican who was chairman of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority and who served in former Governor Lincoln C. Almond’s administration – has said he plans to run for governor in 2022. So the possibility of a Republican primary emerged as Filippi weighed whether to enter the race.

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On Friday, Rhode Island Republican Party chairwoman Sue Cienki hinted that yet another GOP candidate might emerge.

“Stay tuned,” she said. “There is a wonderful opportunity for an individual based on what we have seen around the country. The timing is right for Republicans.”

But Cienki had made no secret of the fact that she thought Filippi would make a good gubernatorial candidate. “I think he would be a very attractive, Kennedy-esque candidate,” she said in October. “He’s articulate, passionate, and doing it for the right reason.”

On Friday, Cienki said there’s value in keeping Filippi in place as leader of the House Republican caucus.

“I have always maintained that we don’t want to move chess pieces off the board,” she said. “We want to keep the chess pieces that we have and add to them. He does such a great job as minority leader that it’s good he is staying.”

In an interview, Filippi said his tweet speaks for itself. “I love representing South County,” he said. “We have unfinished business up at the legislature.”

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Filippi, 41, has been in the House since 2015, representing District 36, which includes all of Block Island and Charlestown, plus parts of Westerly and South Kingstown. He became minority leader in 2018.

Darlington, 59, is the managing partner at Fletcher Granite, a company based in Westford, Mass. He was chairman of the Turnpike and Bridge Authority board, which he served on from 2001 to 2013. He worked for Almond, who was governor from 1995 to 2003, in roles such as director of constituent affairs and a special assistant.

On Friday, Darlington said he plans to file his declaration of candidacy with the state Board of Elections within the next two weeks. “I am running,” he said.

Regarding Filippi’s decision, Darlington said, “It’s a very personal and difficult choice we all have to make. I am glad he is going to remain active and lead the Republicans in the House.”

The Democratic field is expected to include Governor Daniel J. McKee, Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, former Secretary of State Matt Brown, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, and Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him @FitzProv.