Don Roach: Mike Riley can Beat Jim Langevin
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
If I say the name, Michael Riley, does anything come to mind? Nothing? That’s ok because Michael Riley is a name you will get to know over the next several months especially if you live in the second Congressional District. Riley is fighting Michael Gardner for the right to challenge incumbent Jim Langevin. Langevin has represented the 2nd District since 2001. Most recently in 2010, Langevin defeated current RI GOP Chair, Mark Zaccaria, and Independent, John Matson, carrying sixty (60) percent of the district.
It’s about the money
Zaccaria fought a great race, financially he did not have enough to compete with Langevin. For perspective at the end of the first quarter in 2010, Langevin held approximately $420,000 on hand whereas Zaccaria had a little over 53,000. That’s an 8 to 1 advantage and simply put, it’s difficult to compete against an opponent who is able to so easily outspend you.
In this race, Riley won’t enjoy a numerical advantage over Langevin in terms of dollars, but Langevin’s advantage is not as wide as it was against Zaccaria. As of the Q1 filing, Langevin held approximately $280,000 to Riley’s $111,000. That’s about a 2.5 to 1 advantage meaning Riley certainly faces an uphill battle but it appears he should be able to sustain monetary competitiveness with Langevin. Against a five time incumbent in one of the most Democratic states in the union, that’s step one in the twelve step program to elect a Republican to a congressional seat.
Who is Michael Riley?
Step two is establishing your brand. Riley is a complete unknown to the political scene as far as I am aware. He’s a hedge fund manager – yes, cringe you progressive sycophants! From his campaign website it seems his company has won a couple of awards recently and he appears to be a respected leader in his Narragansett community. He’s married with three children. That’s all great but I’m sure you’re more interested in his stance on issues. I’ll just summarize a few of the topics from his campaign website:
Education – Riley believes that we can’t promise benefits to educators that we can’t afford (read: pensions). He also states that we high school graduates should have fundamental finance knowledge. Lastly, he believes charter schools offer a different and thus far successful alternative that should be explored further.
Economy – Riley considers himself a fiscal conservative and states that is the number one reason he’s running for Congress. He chastises the Obama administration for increasing our national debt and instead believes we should “provide an economic environment that fosters entrepreneurship and confidence that sustains that growth.”
Immigration – Riley believes there are not enough visas for the number of people who wish to come to the country. He also states that border security is paramount to a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he suggests needs passage.
Check out his website further for his views on Defense & Foreign Policy, the Environment, and a number of others. For a more in-depth look at his views you’ll need to contact his campaign team which you can also reach via his website.
Not easy to compare Langevin and Riley
As for Congressman Langevin’s website, you can’t really get a summary of his positions on the issues. He certainly has a number of press releases, videos of him speaking in various locals, and blog posts on specific issues but his website isn’t summarized the way Riley’s is. That’s not a nitpick just doesn’t make it overly easy for the voter to view similarities and differences between the candidates at a glance.
One thing I will note that is erroneous on the Langevin website is where the site states – “As he nears the end of his fifth term, Jim is honored to have received over 70 percent of the vote in each of his re-elections (bold mine). As previously noted, Langevin received 60 percent of the vote in the 2010 race not really close to 70. If any Langevin staffer is reading this, making an update would be a good idea.
Obviously, that’s a small issue and no one should make voting decisions based on this, but it does beg the question does Langevin feel he’s undefeatable and thus does not need to pay as close attention to his own messaging or that of his opponents? Langevin’s posting of his Washington priorities most recently occurred in June 2011. He did post again in November last year but his post mostly related to internet security. I understand internet security is one of a number of important issues, but I tend to think Rhode Islanders are more focused on not getting overly taxed and making sure they have a job.
Is it time for a new voice in Washington?
That’s the question. I recently reached out to Riley to ask him a few questions about his campaign and what he hopes to do to help Rhode Islanders. If he is willing to respond, we’ll have a chance to determine if Riley is the right man for the job. As it stands, I’m just excited that Langevin will have to take on a determined challenger and one who appears to have enough financial support to ensure Langevin talks about his record and why Rhode Islanders should send him back to Washington.
I invite you to take a look at both Langevin and Riley’s websites as you make your selection this November. Assuming that both are able to win their primaries, we’ll have an interesting decision to make, and what we need to ask – at least what I believe we should ask – is who is going to be the Congressman that will bring jobs, not 38 Studios-type jobs, but real jobs to Rhode Island so that our economy is able to bounce back on its feet?
If the answer to that question is not Jim Langevin, then our decision will be easy.
Don Roach is a member of the RI Young Republicans. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Editor's Note: This original version of this piece incorrectly suggested Abel Collins was a Democrat. He is running as an Independent.
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