PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere, a Westerly Republican, on Thursday said he will not seek reelection this year after 30 years in the Senate and 25 years leading the GOP caucus.
“I thought 30 years was a good time to move along and give someone else a chance to come in,” Algiere said. “I will always be an advocate for my communities — Westerly, Charlestown, and South Kingstown — and I will continue to be involved in Westerly.”
Algiere, 61, noted that he also has professional obligations as an executive vice president at the Washington Trust Company.
The 38-member Senate includes five Republicans. In addition to Algiere, the GOP caucus consists of Jessica de la Cruz of North Smithfield, who just pulled out of the 2nd Congressional District race; Gordon E. Rogers of Foster; Thomas Paolino of Lincoln; and Elaine J. Morgan of Hopkinton.
Algiere is a moderate Republican who led the five-member GOP caucus in supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage in Rhode Island in 2013.
While the Republican Party has changed over the course of his 30 years in office, Algiere said, there always has been a conservative portion of the party and he has been able to work with legislators with differing views.
Algiere said he also always has been able to work with the Democratic leadership of the Senate, including current President Dominick J. Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat. He said Ruggerio “has always been a gentleman,” and he has served with Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey and Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin for many years.
Helping constituents has been his favorite part of the job, Algiere said. ”Constituent service has always been the biggest part of the job that makes you feel good,” he said. “People who call are in dire need of help and we help them.”
The legislative process has been the most frustrating part of the job, Algiere said. “The process itself can sometimes be frustrating,” he said. “It was never meant to be easy, and over the years I’ve come to understand the process more and that it was meant to be that way.”
The Rhode Island Republican Party issued a statement thanking Algiere “for his leadership and dedication to improving the lives of Rhode Islanders throughout his three-decade career.”
“He set the foundation for Senate Republicans and has led the caucus tirelessly,” the GOP said. “We wish him the best in this next chapter of his life and look forward to electing senators that share the same vision for a better Rhode Island.”
De la Cruz said Algiere will be missed. “He has a lot of institutional knowledge, so he has been very helpful to us,” she said.
So would de la Cruz be interested in becoming the next Senate minority leader? “We will see what our colleagues come up with, with our caucus,” she said. “If my colleagues want to place that trust in me, then I would feel honored. But it’s not something that we discussed. It’s very premature.”
Rogers noted that this is an election year, so it is unclear how many Republicans will be in the Senate next year. And Algiere will remain Senate minority leader for rest of this year.
Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.