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Ken Block to Run for Rhode Island Governor as Republican

Monday, October 28, 2013


Ken Block will be running as a Republican in the 2014 Rhode Island Governor'srace.

Former gubernatorial candidate Ken Block has announced he will be running as a Republican in the 2014 Rhode Island Governor's race.

In a letter sent to Republican voters, Block, the founder and former head of the Rhode Island Moderate Party, states that he is running as a Republican for the seat -- and has a plan to save the state $1 billion in wasteful spending over four years.

"My entire focus is saving the billion dollars, and turning the state around financially," said Block of his campaign for the seat again in 2014.  Block said that would be filing the necessary paperwork to join the Republican Party on Monday. 

Read Letter Here

"My plan is to provide a platform that is sharply focused on fixing the issues most Rhode Islanders care about -- core issues, no matter if you're a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, " said Block. "The way you close ranks -- and the way we fix what's broken -- it's focusing on what's important."

Block, who had already announced his plans to run for Governor again in 2014 back in May, changes the political landscape with his announcement to move from the Moderate Party to the Republicans.  Republican Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has already announced an exploratory committee looking at a run, and potential contenders on the Democratic side include Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, and Clay Pell, grandson of former Senator Claiborne Pell.  

Making the Switch

"I've been thinking about it for a long time," Block said of making the switch to the Republican Party.  "Politics for me has been an evolving process. When I woke up politically in 2007, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to see big change in Rhode Island. And as I thought about it, and got into it, I realized I didn't like how politics went in general. My thinking was creating a new political party focused on the things that mattered made the most sense to me."

Block continued, "I went down that path -- people who'd been down that path said they didn't know if that was a great move, but I went down that road, fought a lot of fights, did a lot of good things, and I think we did make a difference with the Moderate Party.

Block garnered 6.5% of the votes in the 2010 Rhode Island governor's race running as the Moderate Party candidate.  

"The reality is my ability to make big change is constrained by the party itself. There are still a lot of people who don't understand non-Democrat, non-Republican parties, and it's a distraction ultimately from the big goal, which is to make the big change we need to get made. So I'm bringing this message in, overlapping it with Republican party priorities, to get it done -- and that's what we're doing."

Regarding the state of Republican politics locally -- and nationally -- Block said he has talked with a number of party members across the state regarding his move, but as for conversations at the national level, he said it would have to be "wait and see."

Acknowledging that Republican Fung has already established an exploratory committee, Block stated, "I think that whenever you're dealing with early support, a lot of people are making value judgements with a partial story. My job right now is to fully and completely put my ideas on the table, show everyone my approach to governance, and what my goal is -- and then everyone will reassess, and we'll see where we're at."

Focused on Savings

"My entire focus is saving the billion dollars, and turning the state around financially," said Block "I'm from private industry, I've successfully managed multiple businesses."

"The executive branch has tremendous power -- and directly do-able within that branch," said Block.  "We have the country's most expensive unemployment insurance system at the DLT (Department of Labor and Training). There's a reason for that -- I already know why that is -- we're going to quantify and we're going to fix it, we're going to put that money back in the pocketbooks of the businesses who pay that tax."

Block mentioned two other areas he was already focused on addressing as well, including TDI (temporary disability insurance) and RICLAS, which is Rhode Island Community Living and Support system for adults with disabilities.

"On TDI -- it's the same idea as addressing UI", said Block. "We have a system that's twice as expensive as New Jersey, that's very similar to ours. We will cut the cost of that program in half. When we do, that will be $80M back in to the bank accounts of the workers who pay that tax -- annually. That's a third of a billion right there."

"RICLAS -- the state's group homes -- Rhode Island is the only state in the country that the homes are owned by the state, maintained by state," said Block. "We replace the roofs, kitchens. In other states, the groups that operate those homes need to own them. Our costs of what we pay to those operators are among the highest in the country."

"We're doing something out of step here, and it adds up to ten millions of dollars. We should look at it quantify it, and change it," said Block, noting that he had addressed RICLAS in the "Rhode Island Health and Human Services Waste and Fraud" report he had submitted to the state earlier this year. "That's the type of thing I had in that report, which I haven't seen any overt action, which I want to see done."

Next Steps

Block noted that his $1B cost savings plan was "just the beginning."

"It represents a different way of looking at government, a careful way of looking at what we're spending on and why," said Block. "Those savings will give us flexibility -- we can look at reinvesting it, or undo things we've done in the past," noting the Sakonnet Bridge tolls as a possible example.

"This is process of looking at things and making them better. Not destroying them but improving them," he said. "All of these are a means to an end, and allow us to do smart things with the money. Usually, the question is, "How can we plug the hole? Mine is, "How can we make the hole disappear?"

As for the future of the Moderate Party, Block said, "it's a ballot qualified party through the 2014 election."

"My message is inclusive," said Block  "It's about fixing fiscal problems, which applies to every person who's here -- every special interest who's here gets something fixed in my plan that needs to be fixed for them. I don't play labels."  


Related Slideshow: Ken Block—Timeline

Former gubernatorial candidate and Moderate Party head Ken Block has announced his intentions to run again in 2014.  Here is a timeline of his professional and political background.  

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Early Years


Block was born in 1965 and grew up in Milford, CT as the oldest of three children.  He graduated from high school in 1983 and attended Dartmouth College, earning a BA in Computer Science in 1987.  

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Career Beginnings


Block began his career writing software for Wall Street trading desks.  He went on to Bank of New England in Boston, and then to job at a small software consultancy in the Boston area. 

In 1991, Block began work in Rhode Island on a one year consulting job with GTECH Corporation, and by 1992 took a full time position at the company.  Block left GTECH in 1997 to form Kinetic Consulting and after the dot-com bust he formed Simpatico Software.

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Moderate Party Formation

The beginnings of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island were started in 2008, when a website was established and candidates were endorsed in the general election.  

The Moderate Party faced several legal hurdles however seeking official recognition by the state.  The party filed a lawsuit against the state in February of 2009 to be able to gain official party stauts, and a US District Judge ruled ultimately in the Moderate Party's favor in May 2009.  

Over 33,000 signatures were collected ultimately validating the party, and placing it on the 2010 ballot.  

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2010 Election

Running as the Moderate Party candidate, Ken Block finished 4th in the statewide general election with 6.5% of the vote -- 22,146 in total.

Governor Lincoln Chafee won with 36.1 percent (123,571 votes); Republican John Robitaille took 33.6% (114,911 votes), and Democrat Frank Caprio 23% (78,896). 

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Political Presence

Following the 2010 election, Block continued to push for political change in the state, undertaking the Rhode Island Health and Human Services Waste and Fraud Report, with the preliminary findings submitted earlier this year.  

Block has spoken out on such issues as abolishing the master lever, opposing payments to bondholders on 38 Studios, among others.  Block also served as President of RI Taxpayers.  

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2014 Governor's Race

Block announced his candidacy for the 2014 Rhode Island Governor's race earlier this year in May.  


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I like what I'm hearing here.

1) Block has learned first-hand the reality that the bulk of voters understand "Democrat" and "Republican." That means you can engage them with one of those parties and not with Green, Moderate, Libertarian or other nameplates.

2) He's focused clearly on the big problem: Spending. He's already found millions in wasteful/fraudulent Medicare spending when he volunteered to do so for the state, so he's proved he has the insight and intelligence to go after more spending abuse.

The challenge will be getting a lot of voters to understand that reducing wasteful, crony, handout, good ole RI Democrat spending is the key to making the state efficient, affordable for taxpayers and absolutely necessary for a robust economy.

Comment #1 by Art West on 2013 10 28

I really like this candidate. The question is, will the Republican party support him? Or will they throw all the support behind Fung? This will be a very interesting primary season.

Comment #2 by Stephen DeNinno on 2013 10 28

Great news. No sense in spliting the votes of the informed. I am sure whoever wins the Republican nomination will get the full support of Republican voters. But we are still a minority for sure.

The election will likely end up being a battle between the candidate that represents the public sector unions and hopefully one candidate that represents the taxpayers.

Comment #3 by James Berling on 2013 10 28

I don't think it's a question of the Republican party supporting him Stephen. I think it's more along the lines of, will he draw in the independent vote. Personally speaking, I like Fung (I also like Block), but when Fung aligned himself with Carcieri, I became very concerned and somewhat alienated. I think Carcieri put it to the middle class on his way out the door with the 38 studio thing and the Block Island wind thing. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that he walked away with something in his pocket from both of those fiascos that are and will hurt the average joe taxpayer. I'm not even sure how I would feel about Fung if he were to cut ties with Carcieri now. Fung has done a good job in Cranston but the Carcieri thing put a bad taste in my mouth immediately.

Comment #4 by Patrick Boyd on 2013 10 28

Patrick, I also blame Carcieri for the cities and towns downfall. He cut huge figures, knowing they could not make up that kind of loss. The state was in a much better position to absorb the downturn in the economy. This is why so many cities and towns are on the brink of BR. Typical CEO, cut the workers while you still have the perks. And before the conservatives start with cut cut cut. Remember, the cuts to Providence were equal to the entire public safety budget. They couldn't cut schools (Carulo) so where would you cut?

Comment #5 by Stephen DeNinno on 2013 10 28

mr deninno

I am not a huge fan of carcieri, deep water wind will be a fiasco.

BUT - the state employees took a lot of hits with paycuts and furlough days and increased benefit copays.

he cut about 2-3,000 people off the state payroll? have you noticed a cut in services? so what were those 2-3,000 people doing?

he also told every city in town to start making cuts at the city and town level just as he had done at the state level. he told them there would be cuts.

and what did ciccilini do? and others? ignored him and that's why they are in a mess.

providence? do you know of one person that has been laid off? just one? there werent any!!! what does that tell you?

Comment #6 by john paycheck on 2013 10 28

This is a great move by Block. The state would have been in much better shape if he had been eliminated in the primary.

To Mr. Berling's point on the pro taxpayer V pro union candidate being the last two standing. I would argue that their isn't going to be a pro union candidate. The unions obviously hate Ms. Raimondo. Mayors Fung and Taveras lobbied to get cities and towns included in the pension reform bill. The road has gotten too steep to kick the can up anymore. It just keeps rolling back down the road to our feet.

In the end I think history will show that Ms. Raimondo was the unions greatest advocate.

Comment #7 by Redd Ratt on 2013 10 28

Health and Human Services is another sector where you'll find lots of pork, hours-padding overtime and waste of other people's money. Cuts could be made here.

John paycheck -- spot on. State government is too much an organization that takes money from citizens to create programs and bureaucracy for friends and relatives. The question is, are people fed up yet?

Comment #8 by Art West on 2013 10 28

So, Ken Block works to get the Moderate Party established in RI, which he does, and it ultimately gets Chafee elected, now he's running for Gov.... as a Republican??? What a joke.

Comment #9 by Donna C on 2013 10 28

Donna, I understand your frustration. But Rhode Island is better off this way Block like all the others is an ambitious person that thinks they have the right formula for the state. By running as a republican he won't split the fiscally conservative and moderate vote with Raimondo and Fung in the general election. If he can't past Fung in the primary he can get behind him and support him. This way we won't end up with a stooge getting elected with 36%.

Comment #10 by Redd Ratt on 2013 10 28

Ken Block's ideas make good sense for RI. People should put their extreme partisan agendas aside for a little while and hear what the man is saying. He has a lot of good ideas that will help RI, and that's good for everyone who lives and works here. I hope this next election will be about ideas and solid plans, not the usual shallow campaign hype. He is not Carcieri any more than the RI dem candidate is Obama.

Comment #11 by Katy Sloop on 2013 10 28

WOW!!!! After reading this article, go read Russell Moore's article on Angel TaverASS and Gina. Not one idea brought forth by the democrats. Was feeling pretty depressed about our choices, a little more energized after reading this piece.

Comment #12 by lupe fiasco on 2013 10 28

Who would you rather have in office?..another stupid lib that will keep the state in flux with the same old going nowhere policies or Ken Block who has the answers and the solutions to move this state ahead and return money to the middle class that this democratically controlled state has stolen over the past 70 years.

Comment #13 by LENNY BRUCE on 2013 10 28

Redd...I would agree with you if the Gov had any power! The ONLY way to get this state fixed is to get a new GA, especially a new Speaker! We need Reps and Senators who are not bought off and need to carry out the union or progressive agenda. NEW BLOOD is our only hope. Until that happens, we will not get out of this hole.

Comment #14 by Donna C on 2013 10 28

Ken Block on the issues....LOL
Do you support requiring parental consent before an abortion is performed on a minor? ....NO
Do you support abstinence-only sexual education programs?..NO
Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes?...NO
Should a minor who sends sexually-explicit or nude photos by cell phone face criminal charges?....NO
Do you support expanding the definition of a hate crime to include gender identity? ...YES
Do you support the enforcement of federal immigration laws by state and local police?...NO
Do you support state funding for the development of alternative energy? ...YES
Do you support enacting environmental regulations aimed at reducing the effects of climate change? YES
Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns?...YES
Do you support allowing individuals to carry concealed guns? NO
Do you support requiring a license for gun possession? YES
Do you support a universally-accessible, publicly-administered health insurance option? YES
Should marriage only be between one man and one woman? ..NO

Comment #15 by Sammy Arizona on 2013 10 28

I like Ken Block, he has plans and ideas that are the right prescriptions for what ails RI. The fact that he is saving money already for RI says more than any Dem or GOP candidates can say.
Alan Fung should put his backing for Block and give RI a real chance to go up against the UNIONIZED Dems and corrupt GA.

Comment #16 by Gary Arnold on 2013 10 29

Sammy thanks! I don't agree with him on gun policies. But he's the sort of socially progressive, fiscal conservative that a lot of the moderate middle agree with. How great would it be if the unions had to choose between him and Ms. Raimondo.

Comment #17 by Redd Ratt on 2013 10 29

Ken is an brilliant guy. He is also an arrogant guy. He is not charismatic. Neither is Mayor Fung. Mayor Fung will play it safe... not take any risks. Block will drown out his voice and talk about how Mayor Fung raised taxes in Cranston.

The GOP in this State is a complete farce. Block entering as a Republican can only help the party gain some credibility. I wonder what his position is on the Second Amendment. All of these people would do nothing to fix the rotting culture here in this State. Will anyone have the guts to close the bathhouses and tranny bars near PPAC? I doubt it. Taveras is weak. Raimondo will be seen as taking teacher pensions away while she actually saved them. This is going to be a messy, awful election year. Block needs to get serious about the billion dollars in savings; it sounds too good to be true but I do believe he is an earnest, capable person who might slapdown Fung in a primary.

Comment #18 by Lisa Famigilietti on 2013 10 29

Well at least the narcissistic Mr. Block won't totally screw up the works by running as a 3rd candidate.
Sammy Arizona does a great service by showing the real Ken Block.

I'm not a Republican (and definitely not a Democrat), but it seens clear, neither is Mr. Block. If these positions are correct, he's a total joke as a Republican candidate.

Yes, all things considered the choices are weak, but it's still very early and I'll wait and see what Mayor Fung has to offer. He's successfully administered a large city for several years and made difficult choices. I hope he brings some solid ideas to the debate.

Comment #19 by Walter Miller on 2013 10 29

Any chance the electorate votes for a constitutional convention?

Comment #20 by Redd Ratt on 2013 10 29

Any chance one of these candidates might champion Voter Initiative?

If voters could put propostions on the ballot for the voters to decide we would be able to break the stranglehold the GA has on democracy in this state.

Voter Initiative.

The General Assembly is corrupt and our worse enemy.

Comment #21 by James Berling on 2013 10 29

Do you people support the progressive economic policies that keep RI dead last in virtually every category? you want more of the same? keep voting for the democrats,keep RI in the dark ages forever.

Comment #22 by LENNY BRUCE on 2013 10 30

Nice job Ken Block's team of making fake accounts and commenting on every blog today with the same statements. The reality of it all. At tonight's RIGOP open house, no one liked Block. Fung isn't perfect, but he's got one hell of a successful track record. And I'll take substance any day.

Comment #23 by Brandon Hawk on 2013 10 30

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.