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Schaper: GOP McKay Prepping for US Senate Run

Monday, March 10, 2014


Photo: Rhode Island Republican Assembly

Raymond McKay, network and telecommunications administrator for the city of Warwick, Rhode Island is prepping for a US Senate run against a three-term incumbent Jack Reed.

Despite the subtle rumblings of his campaign, McKay the Chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Assembly has issued no formal announcements regarding a run for office, although there has been no denial of a run and an announcement may be formalized in the near future, but for certain unconstitutional laws still on the books in the City of Warwick.

As a classified employee, the current technical administrator could face termination should he proceed with a political campaign based on an old (1971) yet obscure statue in the Warwick Municipal code, which bars classified employees from running for office, but does not apply to other municipal employees that belong to the fire, police, and teachers union or regular unclassified employees who serve at the pleasure of the mayor. In 1978, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled in two cases that language similar to that used in Warwick’s ordinance was unconstitutional. McKay has brought the issue to the attention of local staff and councilmembers, and has indicated to friends and supporters his intention to remain serving his city, no matter what his political plans may be, until such time as he is victorious in a political campaign.

With the beginning of a new year , Projo reported that Republican McKay was considering a challenge to incumbent Reed. The speculation turned into scrutiny on March 6, as Projo reported “Candidate for US Senate” on McKay’s LinkedIn page. Of course, writing the goal on a web page is not the same thing as an official announcement. If the mainstream media took such pronouncements as set in stone, the headlines would be filled with little children announcing campaigns for President of the United States.

McKay, however is no kid when it comes to politics, and he has done more than complain yet do nothing about it. Working with RI GOP Chairman Mark Smiley and other local activists to unify the Republican Party and foster conservative outreach, McKay is no neophyte to political fights.

Still, whomever ultimately decides to challenge the senior senator, whether a Republican, a Moderate, or even Mark Binder of Providence, will find a greater momentum propelling him toward victory despite the lopsided advantage which Rhode Island Democrats (including Senator Reed) have exploited for decades. From ObamaCare to the sluggish economy, to the lower predicted turnout of off-year federal elections, to the six-year itch which afflicts the party of the President who currently holds the White House, 2014 may turn out to be the thirty-year return of the “Great Fiasco” only greater and better for Rhode Island.

Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.


Related Slideshow: The Ten Biggest Issues Facing the RI General Assembly in 2014

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The Budget

The latest report by the House Finance Committee illustrates that Rhode Island will start the next fiscal year, which starts in July 2014, with an estimated deficit of $149 million. The report shows the FY 2014 Budget contains numerous overspending problems—meaning that the General Assembly will have to cut costs somewhere.

So where will the cuts come from? Lawmakers will have to examine the state's costliest programs. According to the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, the most expensive government programs in Rhode Island are Elementary and Secondary Education, Public Welfare, Pensions, Higher Education, and Interest on Debt. Click here to view a comprehensive list of the state's costliest government programs.

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Bankrupt Communities

The state may be two years removed from Central Falls filing for bankruptcy, but 2014 could be the year that other financially strapped Rhode Island communities follow suit—most notably Woonsocket and West Warwick.

With bankruptcy on the table in both 2012 and 2013, this year poses more financial uncertainty for the cash-strapped city of Woonsocket. Earlier this year, the city's bond rating was downgraded due to the city's numerous financial issues—including a growing deficit, increasing unfunded pension liability, and a severe cash crunch.

Similarly, the embattled town of West Warwick faces a variety of financial questions in 2014. With its pension fund set to run out by 2017, the town must address its unfunded liabilities this year if it hopes to regain financial stability. That, coupled with an increasing school department deficit, make West Warwick a contender for bankruptcy.

Look for Woonsocket and West Warwick's elected state officials to address their respective cities' financial issues in the upcoming legislative session.

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Sales Tax

With the Special Joint Legislative Commission to Study the Sales Tax Repeal set to report their findings to the General Assembly in February, the possibility of sales tax repeal in Rhode Island could become a reality in 2014.

"Our sales tax is killing small businesses, especially those in border communities," said Rep. Jan P. Malik (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren), the commission's chair. "How can Rhode Island continue to compete at 7 percent, with Massachusetts already lower than us and considering reducing its sales tax even farther? How can Rhode Island restaurants compete at 8 percent? They can’t. We need to find a way to fix this, and a serious discussion of our sales tax is a discussion we need to have, now, before more small stores close their doors."

In addition to Malik, proponents of sales tax elimination include the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity and Forbes Magazine.

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EDC Reorganization to Commerce Corporation

On January 1, 2014, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation will be replaced with the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation—a move which has the potential to impact to adversely affect recipients of federal funding contracts made possible currently through the EDC.

This could include the state's Broadband Initiative, Brownfields program, and other contracts made through the EDC. As a result, recipients will now be required to re-apply for federal funding as of January 1st.

The massive overhaul of the EDC was prompted by the 38 Studios debacle, which is projected to cost Rhode Island taxpayers $102 million. 38 Studios, the now defunct video game company, filed bankruptcy in May 2012 just months after securing a $75 million loan from the EDC.

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Marijuana Legalization

With the state's marijuana decriminalization law going into effect this past April, Rhode Island may be a candidate for marijuana legalization in 2014.

Legislation to legalize marijuana has been introduced in each of the last three years, but has never been voted on. Earlier this year, Rep. Edith Ajello (D-Dist. 3, Providence), who is chair of the Judiciary Committee, introduced the bill in the House. Roughly half of the Judiciary Committee supports the measure.

The bill also has the support of the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization focusing on drug policy reform, which hopes to legalize marijuana in ten states, including Rhode Island.

Approximately 52 percent of Rhode Island voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted in January.

Marijuana is currently legal in Colorado and Washington.

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Constitutional Convention

Come November 2014, Rhode Island voters will likely be asked whether they wish to convene a constitutional convention, which involves individuals gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising the existing one.

Every 10 years, Rhode Island voters are asked whether they wish to amend or revise the constitution. Voters rejected this opportunity in 1994 and 2004. Although rare, Rhode Islanders can vote to hold a constitutional convention and in effect, take control over the state government.

If approved, a special election is held to elect 75 delegates, who then convene to propose amendments to the Rhode Island Constitution. These amendments are then voted on in the next general election.

The likelihood of this occurring highly depends on if the General Assembly does its job to ensure residents that the state is heading in the right direction financially and structurally.

Rhode Island’s last constitutional convention took place in 1986. It proposed 14 amendments—eight of which were adopted by voters.

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Education Board Structure

Less than a year after the General Assembly created the 11-member Rhode Island Board of Education to replace the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Governors for Higher Education, there are multiple questions surrounding the structure of this newly consolidated agency.

Although lawmakers voted to merge the state's two education boards in June, the Board of Education now wants to split its agency to create two separate councils—one with the statutory authority over kindergarten to grade 12 and another governing higher education.

The Board of Education will present its proposal to the General Assembly during its next legislative session and lawmakers will once again determine how the agency should be structured.

The Board of Education currently governs all public education in Rhode Island.

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Sakonnet Bridge Tolls

Rhode Island may have implemented tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge this past year, but they could be gone by 2014.

On January 15, the East Bay Bridge Commission—which was established to allow lawmakers and officials investigate various funding plans, potentially eliminating the need for tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge—will report its findings to the General Assembly. The General Assembly is then required to vote on the issue by April 1.

The commission was established in July following the General Assembly's approval of the 10-cent toll.

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Superman Building

Located on Westminster Street in Downtown Providence, the former Bank of America Building (commonly referred to as the Superman Building) may be the tallest building in the state, but as of right now, it's just a vacant piece of property.

The building's current owner, High Rock Westminster LLC, was most recently looking for a total of $75 million to rehabilitate the skyscraper—$39 million of which would come from the state.

With the sting of the 38 Studios deal still fresh in the minds of lawmakers, a $39 million tax credit appears unlikely.

The question of what will become of the Superman Building remains to be seen. 

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Master Lever

Championed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block (while head of the RI Moderate Party), the movement to eliminate the Master Level, which allows voters to vote for all candidates of one political party with a stroke of the pen, is poised to heat up in 2014.

Despite Block's strong push to repeal the 1939 law, the measure did not get a vote in the General Assembly last session.

In October, Block told GoLocal that he believes that House Speaker Gordon Fox is responsible for the General Assembly not voting on the proposal.

“Despite the support of a majority of 42 state Representatives, thousands of emails from concerned RI voters and unanimous testimony of more than 100 people who came to the State House in person to testify that the Master Lever had to go, the Speaker personally killed the bill in the most unaccountable way possible—he did not allow the House Judiciary Committee to vote on the bill,” Block told GoLocal.

Speaker Fox has stated on multiple occasions that he believes the Master Level is a legitimate tool that many voters use.


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Raymond McKay? Is this a joke? I have a better chance of marrying a Sports Illustrated model than this guy has of beating Jack Reed. Why run people in campaigns that make you a laughing stock?

Comment #1 by MikeP Sullivan on 2014 03 11

* * * Press Release * * * For Immediate Release * * *

The encouragement I have received since Thursday, March 6th, is humbling.

When people ask why I’m running for the United States Senate, I simply say, “Look around.”

We have repeatedly elected the same individuals, with the same ideas and philosophies. As I speak to residents in Rhode Island, they express frustration with the lack of effective leadership in Washington. People want a Senator who will represent them, someone with new ideas and who offers an alternative that voters can support. I am pleased to be that choice and new voice for our state.

Campaigns require a lot of hard work, time, effort and fundraising – and my opponent has an advantage of resources. The parallels to David versus Goliath will undoubtedly be made. Despite facing these challenges, I am all in, because if I am not, it is all over. Our children and grandchildren deserve a future of opportunity – not one of debt.

Our Founders intended government to be led by individuals who would temporarily leave their jobs to become citizen legislators. I am committed to striking the balance between my obligation to provide for my family and the responsibility to serve our country in Washington.

We, the citizens and voters of Rhode Island and the United States of America must believe that we can do better. We must look to our talented workforce here at home to help rebuild our economy, not allow the jobs to be shipped overseas. We must provide the opportunities for small and large businesses to succeed, not drown them in taxes and bureaucratic red tape. We must provide the leadership to move us in the right direction, not the same Washington talking points. We need to once again become the American People and the American Nation that the world looks to for leadership and resolve.

I am fortunate to be building a campaign of motivated and dedicated volunteers who are tired of the status quo. Our campaign will focus on grassroots efforts and will be driven by a desire for service, success, and effective leadership. We will not allow the career Washington insiders or those who are complacent with the direction of our state and country to continue to be our voice in Washington.

I am looking forward to building a leadership team that will move Washington in the right direction to re-invigorate Rhode Island and get this great Nation back on track.

I look forward to the campaign ahead.

Right Direction. Right Now.

Comment #2 by Raymond McKay on 2014 03 11

Mr. McKay, you can post your press release all day long. The fact remains you have not a chance in hell of beating Reed; in fact, nothing in your life has prepared you to take on a challenge of this import. You work for the City of Warwick and undoubtedly will be in the pension system courtesy of the RI taxpayer. You don't even have clearance to run yet! I do applaud your concern for our State; yet live in the real world... you can't come close to raising enough $$ to even be a serious challenge. Your candidacy will bring harm to the already laughable Republican party in this state. C'mon, man, you know in your gut that this is a lost cause before it begins. Don't do this; run for City Council or stay with your right-wing conservative group-I don't know you, man, but you must be in denial to go forward with this idiotic campaign. Maybe I should jump in... I can be the first welder in the United States Senate. Get real and get out.

Comment #3 by MikeP Sullivan on 2014 03 11

All right. So, listen. Why don’t you give me a call when you want to start taking things a little more seriously? Here’s my card... "The Joker." From now on, Mr. McKay, you are known as The Joker.

Comment #4 by MikeP Sullivan on 2014 03 11

Whoever this man is, he can't win. To call him a joker is harsh but his candidacy is a joke. If this is the best that the Republican party can throw at Reed, then it's over for them. O V E R.
Just stop making fools out yourselves. I vaguely recall the guy who ran against Whitehouse; he was from some boat company and was a very smart young guy and even raised a little dough--and what happened--he got creamed. Fuggetaboutit.

Comment #5 by Nick Lombardi on 2014 03 11

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