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“Recall Raimondo” Petition Causes Rift Between RI Republicans

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


A petition circulating to recall Governor Raimondo has seen sides split in the Rhode Island Republican Party.

A petition circulating to "recall Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo" that was signed by a current Republican Representative is being criticized by a former state GOP lawmaker. 

"Rhode Island deserves better," wrote Representative Robert "Bobby" Nardolillo (R-Coventry, Dist.28) on March 26, when he signed the petition that has over 2,100 signatures.  

See the Petition HERE

Former State Representative and Congressional candidate John Loughlin, however, said he was "disappointed" that the petition was circulating.  

"I am so disappointed that there is a petition circulating to recall Governor Raimondo. While I think she has been a poor leader (Forbes notwithstanding) we have to remember we have a constitutional process that is very specific," said Loughlin. "I am even MORE disappointed when I see elected officials circulating, or reposting the petition. That is just the worst kind of political pandering and these elected officials should be ashamed. Just for those of you scoring at home - here's an excerpt from Article 4 Section 1.

....an official may be recalled if he or she "has been indicted or informed against for a felony, convicted of a misdemeanor, or against whom a finding of probable cause of violation of the code of ethics has been made by the ethics commission."

"It's just insane," said Loughlin of the petition on Monday. 

Recall Process

The petition, which cites a number of appointments made by Raimondo, including placing Richard Licht's son in the Commerce Corporation, appointing labor leader Peter Alviti to head the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, and putting former state representative Donald Lally at the Department of Business Regulations as reasons for the call to action. 

Nardolillo explained his decision to publicly sign the petition. 

"This petition was not created by me. While I am very much in support of those signing it and supporting their frustrations, I do realize it is not possible to recall her without criminal offenses," said Nardolillo. 

Rep. Bobby Nardolillo

"This is a visual impact piece. I signed it to show my support of those who are extremely disappointed and fall into the over 60% whom didn't support her in the first place. She is Governor by default," said Nardolillo. "I very much enjoy that Rhode Islanders are staying proactive in the issues of today. Their is no question Rhode Island deserves better!"

Nardolillo said he was unaware that Loughlin had criticized any elected officials signing the petition. 

"I don't really read other people's [Facebook] walls, everyone's entitled to their own opinion.  If John called me personally, I'd tell him the same thing I'm saying right now -- that I've let the dozens of folks know who've contacted me that the recall process is extremely specific, and that absent any criminal conduct, is not likely to happen," said Nardolillo. "But my reason for signing this is to stand with those Rhode Islanders who are frustrated, and with the lack of any updated approval ratings, to let [the Governor] know where we stand."

Sparring Sides

Raimondo, who was recently named to Fortune Magazine's "World's 50 Greatest Leaders" does not have the same level from the state's Republican chairman. 

Raimondo was described by Fortune with the following: “America’s smallest state just tackled one of the country’s biggest fiscal problems. Countless state and local governments struggle with under­financed pension plans, and Rhode Island’s was one of the worst before 2014. That’s when Gina Raimondo, then state treasurer, engineered an overhaul that slashed cost-of-living increases and pointed the system toward solvency. Public-sector unions fulminated and sued, but voters rewarded Raimondo by electing her governor. In 2015 she negotiated legal settlements that preserved her pension reforms, inspiring hope in cash-strapped statehouses everywhere.”

Rhode Island GOP Chair Brandon Bell said that he hadn't seen the petition, but that he "understood Rhode Islanders frustrations" with the current Governor. 

John Loughlin

"There's a lot of dissatisfaction -- there's the elitism, lack of transparency. She's making Linc Chafee look good," said Bell. "I think what's happening here, is that her first year performance was underwhelming, and the cronyism, the 'I know a guy" mentality that she said she was going to change, she hasn't." 

Bell, an attorney, noted how the recall process works in the state -- and that he agreed it is an unlikely scenario. 

"As outlined in the Rhode Island Constitution: First a recall petition must be obtained from the state board of elections and signatures equal in number to 3% of the votes cast in the last election for that office must be gathered. After this takes place the state board of elections will issue a recall petition for circulation among the electors of the state. The petition must include an explanatory statement of not more than 100 words on why the official should be recalled. Petitioners will have 90 days to gather signatures equal in number to 15% of the votes for said office in the last general election. If the proper number of signatures have been gathered in 90 days and have been verified by the state board of elections, a date for the recall election will be set. If in that election a majority of the voters of the state vote for a recall of the official, then the office will be declared vacant and a separate election will take place," said Bell. 

"So if there were 350,000 total votes it would take approximately 10,000 signatures if [the Governor] constitutionally could be recalled AND around 50,000 signatures if BOE issues petition," said Bell. "It's much easier to get quality people elected to General Assembly to stop Governor and keep a check on Executive Branch."


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The Senate Finance Chairman pushed hard in 2014 for corporate tax reform -- and combined reporting -- and was recently reappointed to his fourth term at the helm of the committee that vets the state's budget. With House Speaker Mattiello's talking about eliminating the state income tax on social security, a budget deficit and the prospect of diminishing gaming revenue, Da Ponte will have his work cut out for him chairing the powerful Senate committee. 

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#9 - Rep. DeSimone

One of the most powerful political players in Providence, the Majority leader wields his influence at the state house as part of Speaker Mattiello's team. Serving in the chamber since 1992, DeSimone rose to his current position with the ouster of former Speaker Gordon Fox in 2014. He will be a pivotal player at the State House for the City of Providence (and new Elorza administration), as the state grapples with a projected $200 million budget deficit, and Providence needs a strong advocate to appeal for what it can.  

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#8 - Bob Goldberg

The former Minority Leader continues his position as one of the state's top lobbyists, representing a wide range of clients that last year included Lifespan, GTech, Johnson and Wales, and CVS Health, to name a few. Year in, year out, Goldberg -- who is married to RI Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg -- parlays his State House knowledge and connections for his well-funded clients, who in the past have included Twin River when it successfully pushed for table games on the ballot in 2012.

(Goldberg pictured at right.)

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#7 - Bill Murphy

The former Speaker of the House continues to wield unparalleled influence as a lobbyist and behind-the-scenes king maker.  While he last served as the state's most powerful elected official until 2010, Murphy's ability to exert control at the State House was evidenced by backing now-Speaker Mattiello when the battle to replace Gordon Fox took place.  Murphy's lobbying clients range from the corrections officers to payday lending to Twin River.

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#6 - Sen. Paiva Weed

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#5 - Sen. Ruggerio

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#4 - David Cruise

Governor Raimondo's newly chosen Legislative Director should prove to be much more than that.  While Raimondo tapped former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley staffer Stephen Neuman to be her Chief of Staff, the out-of-towner might bring in a fresh perspective, but Cruise knows the lay of the land. Having a Rhode Island political resume that includes serving as a State Senator, Governor Sundlun's Chief of Staff, and top roles at the RI Resource Recovery Corporation and as a traffic court magistrate, Cruise's policy role, while his official one, will be just one in his advisory capacity for the newly elected Governor.  

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#3 - Leo Skenyon

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#2 - Gov. Raimondo

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#1 - Speaker Mattiello

The Speaker of the House has always wielded the most power in Rhode Island, and Speaker Mattiello is now the de facto head of state for the second -- and first full -- year.  Mattiello emerged from the 2014 session earning plaudits from a wide range of supporters for pushing through a cut in the corporate income tax and changes to the estate tax.  Now, as a new General Assembly has just gotten underway, Mattiello is eying eliminating the state income tax on social security, before the Governor has submitted her budget proposal.  Look to see what the Speaker can -- and will -- accomplish in 2015.  


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