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NEW: Former Town GOP Chair Endorses Block over Fung’s Dem Support

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

 

Recent Chairman of the Smithfield GOP Phil Hirons has announced his support for gubernatorial candidate Ken Block -- and said that Fung's recent backing of a Democratic Town Council candidate in 2012 was behind his decision. Hirons was also previously head of the RI GOP Chairs' Caucus.

Hirons, who told GoLocal that he resigned from the Chairman position last month to focus on "other things, including the General Assembly," said that in 2012 he was approached by a Republican Town Council candidate who asked why Fung had given to a Democratic Town Councll candidate, Suzy Alba.

"I asked the Mayor, and was told it was because he know [Alba] from before," said Hirons. "We're an at-large Council in Smithfield. I expect that those in leadership positions in the party are going to support their own candidates, not the opposition."

Hirons said that he was approached by Fung for his endorsement, but declined. "I met with [Block] this week, and frankly I think he's putting together a team of higher quality than Fung's. I think Block has laid out a lot of specifics that make him the stronger candidate. I think this race will very much be focused on financial issues," said Hirons.  

Fung Camp Responds

In November, GoLocal reported that Republican Fung had given thousands in contributions to Democratic candidates.  Fung campaign spokesperson Patrick Sweeney said of the donations, "As counsel for MetLife, the Mayor attended democratic events in which he donated to individual candidates on behalf of his client."  Fung was elected as Mayor of Cranston in 2008.

Sweeney told GoLocal, "In regards to the contribution to Ms. Alba, Mayor Fung gave her a small contribution because he considers a her friend, not because of her stand on any issues.  In general, the Fung campaign is very happy with the level of overwhelming support it has from grass roots Republicans. We are not surprised that there will be a few Republicans who support Mr. Block. There were also a few Republicans who supported President Obama in 2012, the candidate Mr. Block supported in 2012."

 


Related Slideshow:
10 Questions Fung Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI

Prev Next

10) Can Fung raise the money necessary to be competitive?

At the last reporting period, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung's campaign had only $336,000.

 

Ken Block had $540,000 and he just entered the race.  

 

Democrat Gina Raimondo has over $2.3 million and even Angel Taveras has $759,000 cash on hand.

Prev Next

9) Is Fung ready for prime time?

Fung is well-liked in Cranston and most everyone thinks Fung is a "nice guy."

 

Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras can claim they took on tough issues.

 

Ken Block articulates big ideas and a proven record in business, but out of the gate Fung's campaign seems less than ready.

 

Fung's campaign manager got confused about how many Democrats Fung has  donated to and his motivation for donating to them. 

 

Would another four years in Cranston be the wiser path?

Prev Next

8) Can Fung effectively run against Angel Taveras?

Fung claims Providence Mayor Angel Taveras as a close friend, but it raises questions about inherent personal conflicts and ability to run and effective race.

 

Politics in Rhode Island is often a blood sport, will Fung approve that knockout punch TV spot in the closing weeks that tags Taveras for the spiraling crime problem in Providence?

Prev Next

7) Is Fung's base big enough?

For Mayor Fung, his base is Cranston, but he does not enjoy a groundswell of Hispanic voters like Providence Mayor Angel Taveras hopes to bank on (7% of the voters were Hispanic in the General Election in 2012, according to Pew Research).

 

A race against Raimondo would be tough as she would very likely have a strong block of female voters.

 

Where does Fung get his votes?

Prev Next

6) Can Fung defend the tax increases in Cranston?

When Fung runs as a Republican against a Democrat, there is an advantage if Fung can point out a differentiation of fiscal discipline. Fung, as Mayor, had numerous and significant residential and commercial tax increases.

 

This will not help him against the fiscally prudent Ken Block, but even if he were to win the primary then he would lose the advantage against Angel Taveras in a General Election. Both have ushered large tax increases through their councils.

Prev Next

5) Why pledge to create "20,000 jobs"? It sounds like Don Carcieri.

Don't know if Fung was paying attention, but GOP Governor Don Carcieri ran on...creating 20,000 new jobs. 

 

When Carcieri left office, Rhode Island had the worst unemployment in America. Not sure Fung wants to mirror that Carcieri pledge.

Prev Next

4) Defending Don Carcieri and making him a part of the campaign - is that a good idea?

The collapse of 38 Studios has scarred Don Carcieri's legacy as Governor of Rhode Island. At best, Carcieri was star struck to give a baseball player $75 million -- at worse, Carcieri was part of something far more ominous.

 

For Fung, who wants to run as the future of Rhode Island, why be associated with Don Carcieri?

Prev Next

3) Defending the lobbyist role?

In 2014, do we think Rhode Islanders will be looking for a former lobbyist for a large corporation that is cutting Rhode Islander's jobs to be our next Governor?

 

Lobbyist-turned-Governor will be tougher to pull off than actor Ronald Reagan-turned-Governor of California in the 1960's.

Prev Next

2) Understand the changing position on gay marriage?

Hard to know what Allan Fung's position is on gay marriage. At different times he offered a range of views.

 

Some GOP primary voters have been opposed to the RI law and others were supportive, but neither segment of the GOP may understand what his position was -- or is.  

Prev Next

1) Political donations to local, federal and national Democrats - are you sure you are a Republican?

Fung has given to David Cicilline, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, former RI Senate President Bill Irons and once RI Attorney General Patrick Lynch. Fung's campaign manager claims he was a lobbyist and needed to donate to Democratic leaders.  Cicilline, Reid and Lynch meet none of those criteria.  

 

Not only did Fung give thousands of his own dollars to Dems, he turned down requests from leading GOP candidates like John Robitalle and Jon Loughlin who were badly outspent and needed every dollar to win.

 

The Republican party in Rhode Island is a pretty small group trying to create a pretty big tent - from Scott Avedisian to Doreen Costa. For most Republicans in this state it is tough -- you don't enjoy the political connections and you're part of a tiny minority -- so loyalty matters.

 
 

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Comments:

Marie Dawn Christie

Seems to me that giving money to the opposition is a bigger commitment than voting for someone. One has to wonder how many democrat friends Mayor Fung has. How many has he given money to that has not been reported? Apparently giving $1000 to Angel Taveras in 2010 doesn't count? Where is this logic coming from? But at the end of the day this isn't my focus. I think giving police officers in Cranston step increases in their new contract is just insane. The sad thing is it takes the Democrats in Cranston to notice this and not the Republican Mayor who offered them? This is very telling. What's next step increases for Crossing Guards? Bring back Steve Laffey!

Brandon Hawk

I interned at the BOE and Phil Hirons was known as an idiot. He would be dead wrong and still try and reason his horrible accounting skills. It should've made SNL.

I like the ability to cross the aisle personally. I can't imagine how any Republican in this state could get anything done without having democratic friends. That's why Mayor Fung has universal appeal and can win a general, unlike Mr. Block.

I wonder who Mr. Block donated to besides himself? Since he doesn't want the supreme court to go more right I doubt too many Republicans are on that list.

Reagan Republican

The transparency here is just too obvious! Come out and support a Republican for Governor and get personally insulted and attacked by Fung supporters/insiders. Wow, that really shows how "Republican" you are.

Rhodey Rhodes

holy crap this is news??? Really getting tired of the back and fourth in this primary and it's not even 2014 yet. Does any one outside of the inner GOP even know who this Phil guy is? I sure don't. What is next? The campaign's announcing every time they have a new volunteer? It's been so obvious how much GoLocalProv has been in Ken Block's back pocket but it's becoming pretty pathetic even for GoLocal standards to report every time someone unknown amongst average Rhode Islanders is supporting Block. Gina is looking better and better… hope she comes out of her primary alive.

don almonte

blahblahblah Fung supported some Dem's… Fung has Dem friends… if you live in Rhode Island and you don't have Democrat friends, you must be one lonely schmuck. It's funny that all of these "pure republicans" are coming out of the woodwork to attack Mayor Fung because he has Democrat friends and has donated to some of them… but none of you have any problem at all that Ken Block endorsed/supported Obama in 2012.. I saw the newsmakers, Block said he thought ObamaCare was a good idea. The "Republicans" going to the Block camp are just creating even more divide and confusion in the party. I am supporting Mayor Fung as the Republican candidate because he is capable of working across the aisle, he is respectful, doesn't have a big ego… and he has a way better chance winning the general election in my opinion. Don't think I'm important enough to get a news story out about my support though lol.

Joseph Davis

Wow, this just in...

Don Almonte is supporting Alan Fung for Governor.

Details at 11.

See Don, you were important enough to get coverage! lol

don almonte

haha! Thanks Joseph, made my day.




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