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8 Key Political Questions for 2013

Friday, November 23, 2012

 

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the new year is fast approaching. GoLocalProv breaks down eight key political questions for 2013.

Who Runs for Governor?

The 2014 Governor’s race will take center stage next year as potential candidates on both sides of the aisle begin to emerge. On the Democratic side, it will be interesting to see whether General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras (the two most popular politicians in the state) actually decide to run against each other. And don’t forget about Ernie Almonte, who has already announced his plans to run for the state’s top job as a Democrat.

For the Republicans, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung or former gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille seem like the best options, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see Brendan Doherty or even Barry Hinckley take a shot.

Assuming Ken Block runs as the Moderate Party candidate and Governor Chafee decides to run for re-election, the state could again be looking at a four-way general election in two years.

Can Chafee Rebound?

The Governor’s second year in office has been far more successful than his first year, but you would never know if you were looking at his polling numbers. Chafee is never going to be a talk radio favorite, but his inability to win over the business community combined with his decision to go against the unions and back pension reform has plenty of people questioning whether he’ll even run for re-election. 2013 certainly appears to be a make-or-break year for the Governor.

Who are the Next Part Chairmen?

Everyone knows Republican party chairman Mark Zaccaria is stepping away from his post, but the Democrats will likely make changes at some point over the next year as well. Chairman Ed Pacheco is coming off a successful 2012 election cycle and now appears ready to run for statewide office himself. It is unclear who the favorite to take over would be at this point.

With Zaccaria on his way out, the Republicans are at a crossroads in the state. It will be interesting to see if they’re willing to elect a socially liberal leader who can effectively recruit young people and minorities to the party or if they choose to go a more conservative route.

Will the Senate Pass Gay Marriage?

House Speaker Gordon Fox says his chamber will vote on same-sex marriage in January, which gives the Senate the rest of the session to consider passing the legislation. But with Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and Judiciary chairman Michael McCaffrey still in place, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Senate put the pressure back on the House by opting to vote in favor of placing gay marriage on the ballot.

Will the State’s Pension Reform Law Hold Up in Court?

Not only will the pension reform suit have a major effect on the financial future of the state, it will also play a huge role in the dynamics of the 2014 Governor’s race. If the law is shot down, suddenly Treasurer Raimondo’s crowning achievement disappears. It if holds up, she probably becomes the favorite.

Will Providence Raise Taxes?

It’s impossible to solve a $110 million deficit in less than two years, but the Taveras administration appears to have righted the ship and the Mayor has certainly earned his high approval ratings. But with some City Council members saying it will be difficult to avoid a tax hike in 2013, Taveras’ star could begin to dim slightly.

Will the General Assembly Get Serious About Oversight?

With so many questions surrounding the 38 Studios debacle, lawmakers have pledged to hold oversight hearings to look into what went wrong. But with at least some of the blame being directed at leadership, the question is whether anything actually gets accomplished.

Where are the Jobs?

Every General Assembly member who won a race this year talked up jobs and the economy as the most important issues in the state and now they have to own it. Rhode Island has the second highest unemployment rate in the country (10.4% in October) and is one of the least business friendly states. And while everyone will be hesitant to offer incentives to businesses because of 38 Studios, the state is in desperate need of a homerun.

 

Dan McGowan can be reached at dmcgowan@golocalprov.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.

 

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