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Blais: Partisan Politics or Thoughtful Party-Spirited Proponents?

Friday, December 13, 2013


Are recent endorsements for gubernatorial candidate Fung more about partisan politics?

Congratulations to Mayor Alan Fung, one of two GOP candidates for governor, whose campaign just announced that he has received personal endorsements from twenty-four twenty-three individual Republican Committee Chairs.

This announcement came on the heels of an “only in RI” moment on WPRO’s Buddy Cianci show whereby some discussion took place over how Fung’s campaign manager and advisor, Patrick Sweeney, landed on-air with Cianci while Cianci was speaking with Tony Bucci. Bucci drew attention since he has thrown his support behind Ken Block, one of two GOP candidates for governor, and is now a senior advisor and finance director for the Block for Governor Campaign. He had been a supporter of Fung and was a former member of Fung’s Exploratory Committee, but has since taken the position that Block is the better choice for the governor’s seat.

Is it too early for endorsements?

Apparently those 23 committee chairs have taken a different position. And, as time progresses this will likely prove to be a very interesting race with fluid dynamics. However, it is fair to ask one question given that it is so early in the election cycle. Have all of these folks had an opportunity to meet with Ken Block or reached out seeking a personal meeting with him to listen to his plan for RI and pepper him with questions before providing their endorsements? I do not know if they have nor if they have attended meet and greets for Block but I do believe that the majority of the committee chairs have not had any time with Block prior to agreeing to go public with each of their names listed and announced in most of RI’s print media. Are these individual endorsements based primarily on party loyalty?

Some of the folks on the list of endorsees I know well, respect, and some I have done business with over the years or have volunteered alongside on a variety of taxpayer issues. But, as chairs of GOP committees, these people have a special responsibility in the larger scheme of things; and that is to do their due diligence precisely because of their leadership positions on various city and town committees before they offer their personal and formal endorsements of either GOP candidate for governor.

The consequences of partisan politics

Partisan politics is what many people believe has created the current conditions in RI – conditions measured by persistently low rankings on innumerable economic measures; to be kind, lackluster economic conditions, an overload of business regulations, fees and taxes, high property taxes as a result of expensive state and local government services, a public education system wrought with controversy and too slow to meet our students’ needs and of course our perennial state structural deficit. Did I miss anything in what has become the commonplace list of issues for taxpayers in RI? Of course, the grossly underfunded pensions and post employment benefits.

So, when the underdog political party and its local and statewide leadership consider each candidate with an open mind, ready and willing to thoughtfully consider what each of those candidates plans are to fix what needs to be fixed in RI then we will have taken the right step toward a brighter future for everyone in our state.

Will they do so or will partisanship carry the day?


Lisa Blais is a board member of OSTPA, a taxpayer advocacy organization in Rhode Island.

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

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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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Brian Bellucci

Gee, maybe this is why the Republican Chairs support Fung over Block..just maybe it has something to do with the fact that Ken Block though OBamacare was a good idea and he "hates" Citizens United; and further felt the Supreme Court has gone too far... after John Roberts upheld the individual mandate as being constitutional. Little things like this do make a difference!

http://ripr.org/post/moderate-party-founder-ken-block-backing-brendan-doherty-president-obama Facts are stubborn things... check this out.

Brian Bellucci

Gee, maybe this is why the Republican Chairs support Fung over Block..just maybe it has something to do with the fact that Ken Block though OBamacare was a good idea and he "hates" Citizens United; and further felt the Supreme Court has gone too far... after John Roberts upheld the individual mandate as being constitutional. Little things like this do make a difference!

http://ripr.org/post/moderate-party-founder-ken-block-backing-brendan-doherty-president-obama Facts are stubborn things... check this out.

Brian Bellucci

In case anybody is wondering, I could care less... I am just a Democrat who lost my health care...

Art West

Well, Brian, if you, like many people, lost your health care because of Obamacare, you may want to consider no longer voting for the politicians responsible for your loss.

Reagan Republican

The author makes an excellent point. All Republicans should hear from both candidates before they make a decision. Unfortunately attacks on Republicans from other Republicans will not help get a Republican in the State House. The methods utilized are just too obvious such as the 3 posts above from the same individual who goes out of her way to state she is a Democrat. Attacks on Ken Block are following a clear pattern very similar to the one launched on the Republican Party. You are very transparent and you need to turn your NEGATIVE energy and PERSONAL INSULTS, into a positive message for your candidate.

George McDonald

Why would a REPUBLICAN vote for Fung? Besides him turning a city around from junk bond status to one that is thriving, growing, running surpluses? He's a REPUBLICAN.

York to Block "So you're in the party because of logistics, not ideology." Block: "Well yes."

If Republicans like being thought of as easy prey, and LIKE being taken advantage of, think about Block.

If you want a Republican Governor, realize it's Fung.

Walter Miller

Not a Republican by any stretch but I find Block's candidacy for Governor in that party's upcoming primary a joke.

3 years ago he announced (to much ballywho) that RI voters needed an alternative to the current two major parties because they were (correctly) failing us. He then fought for and established the Moderate Party, garnering 10% of the last gubernatorial vote. Not bad first time out of the gate.

What are his "next steps" abandon that effort and jump into the shallow pool of Republican primary voters hoping to steal the nomination. In my opinion, he is a total self directed charlatan.

Never met Mayor Fung but have been impressed with his willingness to make difficult decisions and bring Cranston back to fiscal health while all along identifying himself a Republican without hesitation.

Brian Bellucci

Hey, Mr. Reagan, I do have issues, like everyone else in this life, but I don't suffer from gender confusion. Ask my teammates at LaSalle... lol. BTW, I have no dog in this fight... I am about to move up to NH as I have a landed a job up there and taxes are cheaper than they are on my tiny cape in Warwick. Block, despite his stature, is a big boy, he voted for Obama several times and he will have to suffer the consequences when he jumped onto ballot as a Republican, whatever the heck that means in Rhode Island. Happy Holidays even to the Grinches!

Brian Bellucci

BY the way Art, I didn't vote for Obama; I sat the last election out as I didn't like Richie Rich or Pres. Obama... he never closed Guatanamo as he said he would and I hold the belief we shouldn't be holding people without cause.

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