After a week of sustained calls for his resignation as Second Vice Chair of the party, the Cranston conservative who publicly castigated Rep. Teresa Tanzi for alleging she had been sexually harassed at the State House disaffiliated instead.
“No longer does the Democratic Party welcome all Democrats,” he said in a statement announcing his departure, which effectively removes him from his leadership post.
His decision comes after the Democratic Party Women’s Caucus organized the 60 votes needed to call a special party meeting. Prior to that, DeLorenzo had defiantly claimed he would not relinquish the Second Vice Chair position he has held for 27 years.
“This has been a difficult time in state party politics,” said the Democrats’ Chairman Joe McNamara, who along with House Speaker Nick Mattiello were among the only prominent party officials not to call on DeLorenzo to resign.
For the progressive wing of the party, the DeLorenzo affair has been an emboldening time.
“Thank you to the incredible people who contacted state committee members to tell them
#JoesGottaGo,” wrote state Senator Gayle Golidn on Twitter, using a hashtag that helped the campaign go viral on social media.
It has long been taken as gospel that the speaker of the House alone controls the Democratic Party apparatus. But the progressive left, led by the Women’s Caucus, proved that wrong this week.
Justine Caldwell, who helped organize the effort to oust DeLorenzo, tweeted, that the effort “reminds me of the chant at the Women’s March in D.C. ‘Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!'”
DeLorenzo’s downfall began when he called the progressive left “whack jobs” after state Senator Josh Miller briefly challenged Joe Paolino for a party post. The Women’s Caucus suggested DeLorenzo should resign his leadership post if he held a faction of the party in such disdain.
Then DeLorenzo, a former state Rep. from Cranston, poured gasoline on that spark by disparaging Rep. Tanzi’s recent allegation that she was sexually harassed at the State House. The Women’s Caucus subsequently exponentially increased their efforts to remove DeLorenzo from his leadership position, and nearly every high ranking Democrat in Rhode Island joined their cause.
Central Falls Mayor James Diossa replaces DeLorenzo as the Democrat’s second vice chair.