PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The betting on when House Speaker William J. Murphy will step down has intensified, with some of his fellow Democrats anticipating a Democratic caucus early next week to anoint House Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox as his successor.
There has been no official comment from Murphy, a West Warwick Democrat, who has already made public his intention to step down from the post before the year is out.
But lawmakers are taking their cues from developments such as this:
House environmental committee chairman Jan Malik, D-Warren, said he tried to schedule a committee hearing for next Tuesday on a high-profile LNG bill, but his clerk was told not to do so by the Speaker's office "because there could be a caucus.''
As the Speaker pro tempore on the Murphy leadership team, Rep. Charlene Lima, D-Cranston, said she has not gotten official word of when and how the transition will take place.
But in an interview Friday, Lima said: "My impression is that decisions are going to be made this week and that there will be a caucus and a call for Speaker and a call for majority leader'' early next week, and "probably by Wednesday'' because the House usually does not meet on the Thursday before the lawmakers take their week long February break. (The Assembly will not be in session the week of Feb. 14.)
Most of the behind the scenes intrigue has focused on Fox's choice of his own second-in-command, with speculation centering on lawyers Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, and J. Patrick O'Neill, D-Pawtucket, for the position Fox, D-Providence, currently holds as majority leader.
At one point, Fox acknowledged that House Finance Chairman Steven Costantino was also on his list of potential House majority leaders, but Costantino signaled his growing interest in running for state treasurer instead by loaning $150,000 of his own money to his campaign account on December 31.
Fox has faced competition for the speakership from Rep. Gregory Schadone, D-North Providence, who stated this week that he was still in the race.