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

Friday, May 18, 2012


Who’s Hot

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Lincoln Chafee -> To his credit, the Governor hasn’t played the “I told you so” game all week when it comes to 38 Studios, but it is worth noting that he was vehemently against the $75 million loan guarantee from the very beginning. And while it seems as though other prominent politicians are okay with bailing out the struggling business, it might take Chafee to step in and say “enough is enough.”

Brendan Doherty -> As pollster Joe Fleming pointed out in his latest WPRI poll, the Republican Congressional candidate looks like the biggest winner from this week’s David Cicilline/Anthony Gemma poll results. The only problem Doherty has is that he just isn’t that interesting right now. He’ll need to figure out a strategy to stay relevant while the two primary opponents attack each other.

Ernie Almonte -> Almonte made his 2014 gubernatorial run official this week, which gives him more than two years to build up the name recognition and support he needs if he’s going to win a Democratic primary against someone like Gina Raimondo. One caveat: Almonte and Raimondo will likely be chasing the same group of supporters, which could allow a candidate (Angel Taveras?) to swoop in from the left and win a primary.

Laurence Ehrhardt & Donna Walsh -> Kudos to two state legislators who wasted no time in calling for changes in the wake of the 38 Studios debacle. Ehrhardt wants to cap the amount of money a business can receive from the state’s loan guarantee program and Walsh is calling for a full review of what went wrong with Curt Schilling’s company.

Paulette Hamilton -> It’s not much, but anytime a town wants to lower taxes, leadership deserves praise. The North Smithfield Town Administrator has proposed cutting property taxes, which should serve as a pleasant relief to residents who have been forced to pay more and more in recent years.

Same-Sex Marriage -> A double win for marriage equality supporters this week: First, the Governor signed the executive order recognizing same-sex marriages from out-of-state. Next, 38 Studios dominated the news cycle, which prevented lawmakers from making a bigger issue out of the Governor bypassing the legislature.

Scott Slater -> The House passed Rep. Slater’s version of the medical pot bill this week, which makes it almost certain the state will move forward with compassion centers despite having an opponent in the U.S. Attorney’s office. Rep. Slater has worked diligently to push this legislation through in recent years and it seems to have finally paid off.

Who’s Not

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Keith Stokes -> In the end, a guy who isn’t known for taking big risks lost his job for doing just that. He may be a good person, but he’ll be forever known as the guy who went to bat for what could turn out to be one of the worst business decisions in recent memory.

Don Carcieri -> And while Stokes takes the brunt of the criticism, where is the former Governor? It was Carcieri who became enthralled with the idea of Schilling moving his game company to the state in the first place. Now he’s nowhere to be found.

Anthony Gemma -> It seems that acting as though he doesn’t have a primary opponent wasn’t quite the best decision for the Congressional candidate now that we know he trails David Cicilline in the polls. It appears Gemma also took another blow this week when he told WPRI that Chris Nocera would be running his campaign. Multiple sources say Nocera, who has a well-paying job at the Providence Water Supply Board, has actually turned down that offer.

M. Teresa Paiva Weed -> If the Senate President’s relationship with Governor Chafee was already fractured, it took another major hit this week. Paiva Weed was reportedly furious over the same-sex marriage executive order and with the Stokes resignation. Of course, she may have the last laugh. After all, she still has to confirm Mary McElroy as public defender and Luis Matos as a Superior Court judge.

Joseph Aloisio -> The Providence businessman, last seen picking up a DUI the same night a woman died after jumping out of his car, wants to renew his liquor license in Providence. Aloisio also owned Mugshots, the Manton Ave. bar that was well-known for allowing entry to anyone with a college ID and later closed following a car accident that killed two underage drinkers.

Small Businesses -> You know who the real biggest loser is from the 38 Studios mess? Small businesses. With 11.2 percent unemployment, Schilling’s deal is going to cause everyone to hesitate before going to bat for other companies that need a helping hand when it comes to creating new jobs.

Providence School Board -> A week after four members no-showed the vote to make Dr. Susan Lusi the permanent Superintendent of schools, only three members bothered to attend another board meeting. Some members may have had good excuses, but what message does that sent to the engaged parents who showed up to learn more about what is happening in the city’s schools?

Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]


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