Don Roach: If Cicilline Wins In 2012, Voters Lose

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


If you voted for David Cicilline in 2010, please keep reading. This column is addressed to you because after reading this, I hope you’ll be more inclined to vote against the former mayor and at worst, feel really, really, really bad for voting for him if you do so again in 2012.

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In 2012 there will be many important races here in Rhode Island. However, the one that tugs at me the most is the Cicilline race. I’ve written about how he is the true Prince of Providence and that he has taken no accountability regarding the Providence budget mess he left for current Mayor Angel Tavares. Mayor Tavares has played the good soldier by not publicly crucifying his predecessor, the easy and certainly justifiable thing to do. But here’s the good
news, GoLocal is reporting that 51% of his district thinks unfavorably towards him.

Forgive me while I do a happy dance.

But there are always two sides of every coin and 45%, a number that is unfathomable to me, think favorably upon the man who managed the largest city in the state to near bankruptcy…and told us all “everything is fine, thanks for your contribution”. If these numbers hold, “Congressman Cicilline” is a term we’ll relegate to the past after November 2012. Still, I’m concerned.

Cicilline is a good politician

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One thing the GOP has lacked is a crop of “good politicians”. A good politician is someone who understands his base and makes decisions that will help him or her get elected regardless of their actual outcome upon the populace. David Cicilline should teach a course on being a ‘good politician’.

Last year, John Loughlin told us on October 26 – mere days before the election that:

"It appears the city of Providence is bankrupt or close to it and that you are deliberately hiding this fact from the people of Rhode Island. I am concerned that for political reasons your campaign for Congress is causing you to act in such a way as to conceal the budget problems facing the city of Providence, making them worse in the process."

In the ensuing months, it has become apparent that John Loughlin was right about something being very wrong with the city’s finances while the former mayor continued to tout his record. And in the face of this, Cicilline was still able to win the race. Still!

Once the proverbial doo-doo hit the fan earlier this year, Cicilline lost in a poll against Loughlin 47 to 35. Rhode Islanders appeared to be fed up with Cicilline, and Loughlin seemed poised to mount a real challenge for Cicilline in 2012, not counting a potential primary challenge as well. But with GoLocal’s numbers showing that Cicilline holds a 45 to 37 lead now, I’m left scratching my head.

Is Cicilline less culpable for his actions in Providence today than he was in May? No. But, time is a politician’s best friend and Cicilline has used his time wisely. Cicilline is going to make the 2012 campaign about his record as a Congressman, keeping in contact with seniors who adore him, and trying to marginalize his opponents as radical right wingers (good luck putting Doherty in that frame!).

Over the last several months, as Doherty and Loughlin had tried to separate themselves from one another, Cicilline has met with constituents, restocks his war chest, and understands that the Rhode Island electorate is very forgiving or suffer from short term memory lapses whichever your fancy.

But if we do not choose someone other than David Cicilline we’re going to be giving a victory to politicians who give no answers for decisions they make and who sell us a bill of goods.

Are you prepared to live with that? I hope not.

Republican infighting helping Cicilline

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One thing we Rhode Island Republicans know how to do well is mess up a great situation. I don’t want to rehash the horror stories (2006 Senate race) but if the barbs traded by the Doherty and Loughlin campaigns are any indication of what’s to come in 2012, we might as well inaugurate Cicilline today.

The bickering between these two is the opposite of the stance Tavares has taken towards Cicilline. That’s helped Cicilline not face retribution in his own party other than in the form of political outsider, Anthony Gemma, which allows Cicilline to continue to shill his ‘only look at my Congressional record’ story.

I don’t believe Doherty or Loughlin will stop their bickering for the sake of one of them defeating Cicilline in 2012, but cannibalizing Republican votes has never led to general election victory. It won’t in 2012 either.

Unfortunately, I believe Republicans will close their primaries for the 2012 election cycle and while that’ll give Loughlin a leg up, it may make the race more caustic as Doherty has much more money to go after a reduced voter pool. If the primaries close, Cicilline wins. But I’m asking the Doherty and Loughlin campaigns, as I will many times between now and 2012, to tone down the rhetoric in order to take down the main villain, Cicilline.

But if Rhode Island Republican history is our guide, that’s unlikely.


The other potential windfall for former mayor Cicilline is redistricting, which may enable him to grab more parts of Providence. If he does, he’ll pick up areas that generally vote 70/30 for the Democrat just because. We can only hope that doesn’t happen.

Why we lose if Cicilline wins

If Cicilline wins re-election, we re-elect someone who either was ignorant of what was going on in Providence or as Loughlin stated deliberately misled us in order to win reelection. Either way, that is not someone we want as our Congressman because if he can be so negligent or misleading with an issue as significant as the Providence budget how forthcoming will he be with budget issues facing the nation?

If his recent strategy is any indication, it’s blame, deflect, blame, and deflect some more. which is consistent with how he’s addressed the Providence budgetary issues. Don’t we deserve better representation than this? If you voted for Cicilline and are considering doing so again, I ask you educate me in the comment section below because it’s clear to me that if Cicilline wins in 2012, Rhode Island voters lose. And who knows if they’ll be a Tavares to cover up the mess and save the day.

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