GOP Rival says Langevin has Done Nothing in Congress
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Statistics suggest it is nearly impossible to defeat an incumbent Congressman after their first term office. But Republican Michael G. Riley, a hedge fund manager from Narragansett, says he's up to the challenge.
Riley, who moved to Rhode Island about a decade ago after he was literally in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, will be among at least three members of the GOP vying for the opportunity to take on Congressman James Langevin in next November's general election. Widely viewed as the favorite among the challengers, Riley said he was approached to run by former Congressional candidate Mark Zaccaria, who now hopes to run for chairman of the party.
But Riley realizes that he faces an uphill battle against Langevin, who is popular in the 2nd Congressional District and has not faced a serious challenge in recent elections.
Not Doing Anything
The key, he says, will be to focus on the economy, which he believes he is uniquely qualified to address. Riley made his fortune on Wall Street, but has worked on both the trading side and the regulatory side of the stock market. He worked for himself while in New York and says that while he understands the negative view of Wall Street, "I'm as angry at Goldman Sachs as anybody."
"I've actually occupied Wall Street," he said. "I know what's happening there."
Riley, who unsuccessfully ran for Narragansett Town Council and failed to make it out of a GOP primary for State Senator in 2010, said he is running for Congress because while Langevin has made few mistakes during his tenure in the House, "in my view, not doing anything is a mistake."
He said addressing the economy will be his top priority.
"It's the only issue right now," Riley said. "We still have blinders on and we're still kicking the can down the road. We can't do that anymore. We're crumbling. We have to make critical decisions."
Economy the Focus
Riley said he believes the country could be on a similar track as several European countries, including Greece. He said the U.S. is "on a path to major problems" and Congress has taken a pass at addressing the issues. The fiscal conservative said he doesn't intend to discuss social issues such as same-sex marriage or abortion during his campaign because he believes candidates and elected officials need to get their priorities straight.
"I always think that if those were the only issues, we'd be doing okay. But we're not," he said.
And while he hasn't yet taken to criticizing Langevin the way Republican Barry Hinckley has criticized Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, he believes the Congressman should be forced to answer questions about his record while in Washington.
"I wouldn’t be running against the guy if I thought he was doing a good job," Riley said.
Riley, who says he has the money to self-finance his campaign, estimates that if the race were to ever get close, it would cost between $1 and $3 million to defeat Langevin. He has already hired consultants and put nearly $110,000 into his campaign account, records show. And while he says he intends to win the race, his goal is also to raise the level of discussion among voters.
"If the voters are more educated after the race and they don't vote for me, that okay," Riley said.
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