Gemma to Call on Cicilline to Resign Today
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Democratic Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma is expected to call on incumbent Congressman David Cicilline to resign from his post during a press conference at his Providence headquarters this afternoon, GoLocalProv has learned.
Gemma claims he’ll explain why he hired a private investigation firm run by former State Troopers to look into voter fraud in the capital city. In a press advisory sent last week, Gemma claimed he’ll also discuss “other potential criminal actions by David Cicilline and his associates,” although his campaign has refused to release additional information about the press conference.
Congressman Cicilline’s campaign did not wish to comment for this story, but campaign manager Eric Hyers referred to Gemma’s press conference as a “desperate and outrageous stunt” in a statement last week.
"If Anthony Gemma has something to say or an accusation to make he needs to say it now and show whatever proof he claims he has,” Hyers said. ”This is a desperate and outrageous stunt; he ought to put up or shut up today.”
Gemma Called on Cicilline to End Campaign in 2010
This wouldn’t be the first time Gemma has suggested Cicilline should step away from a Congressional race.
A week before the 2010 Democratic primary, Gemma sent a letter to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) imploring the group to ask then-Mayor Cicilline to “end his Congressional campaign immediately.” At the time, Gemma was reacting to a report that claimed Cicilline violated the city charter by accepting salary increases.
“In my letter to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, I shall offer a comprehensive chronicle of David Cicilline’s intentional misstatements of fact, unscrupulous campaign tactics, and heinous failures of leadership and judgment both as candidate for Congress and as mayor of Providence,” Gemma said in 2010. “I shall then demonstrate that this incident, in its entirety, has been exposed by the media and is common knowledge among Rhode Island’s First District voters. Finally, I shall substantiate the argument that even though Cicilline may not prevail on Primary Day, the eventual Democratic nominee will have to bear a significant degree of guilt by association for the remainder of the campaign.”
Gemma went on to finish second (behind Cicilline) in a four-way primary.
Plan Could Backfire
Since announcing his plan to challenge Cicilline again earlier this year, Gemma has rarely commented publicly about the Congressman, instead choosing to focus his criticism on Republican candidate Brendan Doherty, who held a double-digit lead over both Gemma and Cicilline in a WPRI poll released in February.
But last week, Gemma decided to turn his attention back toward his primary opponent. Just before announcing his press conference last week, he posted an obscure comment on his Facebook page claiming news was about to break.
“Be prepared for breaking news that will have an immediate, stunning, game-changing impact on Rhode Island politics,” Gemma wrote. “It will make national headlines. Lives will be changed profoundly – and mostly for the better. Yes, the news will upset us and challenge us. It will require us to tap deep resources of personal strength and to be outraged by the manner in which we have been governed for years. But we are strong. And we are patriots who will realize that it is not our system of government that is corrupt, but only those who have abused the system in support of their hideous personal agendas. We will survive this, and emerge stronger than ever. And through it all, I will be there for you.”
But others have warned that the public should not jump to conclusions until they hear what Gemma has to say. On Monday, several political observers suggested Gemma needs to have direct evidence that Cicilline participated in voter fraud efforts if the candidate’s claims are to be considered credible.
Rhode Island College professor Dr. Kay Israel said Gemma’s unconventional strategy of holding a press conference to unveil opposition research could backfire.
“If it's not really earthshaking one can only wonder about that candidate's ability to make important and realistic decisions,” Israel said. “Gemma can't afford to be in a ‘Henny Penny’ situation. Without a strong issue, confirmable research, and a viable reason for delaying his announcement for a week, he may lose more than he can gain.”
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