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Side of the Rhode: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in RI Politics?

Friday, April 06, 2012

 

Who's Hot

Jack Reed -> Nice to see Senator Reed standing up for college students across the country with his bill that would cap Stafford loans at 3.4 percent interest. With college debt now exceeding credit card debt in this country, it is clear more needs to be done to help address this problem. Next step: How about just making college more affordable?

Lincoln Chafee -> His opponents will only remember issues like the talk radio ban and the holiday tree, but all of a sudden, Governor Chafee is putting together a solid second year in office. He’s the one going to bat for cash-strapped cities and towns and now he’s calling out the raises being handed out at the state’s public colleges while tuition is on the rise. It will be interesting to see whether his approval ratings are about to spike.

Patrick Sweeney -> He leaves the GOP and then suddenly he’s running Senate candidate Barry Hinckley’s campaign. The key for Sweeney will be helping Hinckley understand that he needs to simplify his message to voters. People don’t understand (and don’t care about) the million-page tax code. It’s an admirable issue to take up, but it’s time for Hinckley to get on TV and start explaining why Rhode Islanders should pick him over Senator Whitehouse.

Sabina Matos & Teresa Tanzi -> Congrats to these local politicians on being recognized as “rising political stars” by the YWCA of Northern Rhode Island. Matos has quickly proven herself as a leader on the Providence City Council and some believe she has an outside shot at becoming Council President in 2015. Rep. Tanzi has established herself as a champion of progressive politics and her name has already been whispered as a potential Secretary of State candidate (although she says she’s not interested).

Barrington Police Department -> Kudos to the Barrington PD for not bowing to Senator Frank Ciccone’s shameful attempts to get Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio out of his DUI last week. As everyone scrambles for more juicy details on the story, it continues to be forgotten that somebody could have been killed that night.

Don Grebien -> The Pawtucket Mayor is doing everything he can to help his city avoid bankruptcy or a massive supplemental tax hike and that means taking on the firefighters now. Grebien is taking long overdue steps to control spending by cutting overtime costs and while it won’t make him any friends in the short-term, it could help save the city down the road.

Newt Gingrich -> Rhode Island is expected to be a Romney state and will almost certainly be an Obama state during the general election, but it looks like it might catch Newt fever for a couple of days prior to the April 24 primary. A Gingrich visit would certainly give the State GOP a boost and a second place finish in Rhode Island would be a huge win for the former House Speaker.

Who's Not

Frank Ciccone -> The story just keeps getting uglier for Senator Ciccone, whose deplorable actions only make labor leaders across the state look like complete thugs. One has to wonder how he’ll be able to survive a primary challenge if a Democrat takes him on this September. Of course, if politicians keep giving back contributions, he will have a massive war chest.

M. Teresa Paiva Weed -> It’s a shame that the Senate President has been unwilling to take questions from the media on the entire DUI saga. Forget forcing Sen. Ciccone to give up a couple of seats on committees; how about encouraging him to resign from the Senate?

Brendan Doherty -> The Republican Congressional candidate deserves credit for returning the $1,250 in campaign contributions, but it was awfully foolish of his campaign to not immediately distance itself from Senator Ciccone. In the grand scheme of things, no one will remember this situation in a few months, but Rhode Islanders this week certainly had the right to question the whole “uncommon integrity” slogan.

John Loughlin -> There isn’t a political insider in the state who believes John Loughlin left the Hinckley campaign over a mistake in a press release virtually no one in the media picked up. It will be interesting to see if the true story is ever revealed.

Mark Zaccaria -> With drunken Democrats making fools out of themselves, this should have been a banner week for Republicans in the Ocean State. But when the chairman of the Party goes on a local talk radio show and claims Congressman Cicilline could leave the race this week, Republicans just look foolish.

Robert Flanders -> Judge Flanders is poised to make a lot of money as cities and towns across the country move toward bankruptcy, but it probably wasn’t the smartest move to run around suggesting Providence was going to file without, you know, consulting with Mayor Angel Taveras first.

Neumont University -> With state colleges suddenly acting like for-profit institutions, the last thing Rhode Island needed was some degree-peddler coming in and charging outrageous tuition fees.
 

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