PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey announced Monday that he is going to retire rather than seek re-election this fall.

McCaffrey, D-Warwick, was expected to eventually seek the top position in the chamber once Senate President Dominick Ruggerio eventually steps aside. His departure, which was first reported by 12 News, will clear the way for new faces in the chamber’s Democratic leadership ranks.

“It is with a heavy heart that after nearly three decades in the State Senate I am deciding not to seek reelection to an institution that I deeply admire and respect,” McCaffrey said in a statement. “This decision does not come lightly, but it is one that I have arrived at after innumerable conversations with family, friends, and supporters. Now is the right time for me to bow out and spend my extracurricular time with those that I
hold most dear.”

The 58-year-old lawyer was first elected to the Senate in 1994, and he previously served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2003 to 2017 when he was elevated to majority leader.

In his retirement announcement, McCaffrey said he was part of a “group of dissidents” when first elected, and even had an office in the men’s bathroom, before eventually rising to his influential positions in leadership.

He cited his efforts in reforming court measures and diversifying the judiciary along with recently passing cannabis legalization among his accomplishments as majority leader.

Ted Nesi ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Threads, Twitter and Facebook.

Tim White ( is Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.