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

Friday, June 22, 2012


Who’s Hot

Allan Fung -> To no one’s surprise, the Cranston Mayor is running for re-election and it appears likely that he won’t have a serious challenger this time around. Mayor Fung has long been a rising star among state Republicans and may very well be the Party’s best chance at winning back the Governor’s office in 2014.

John Lombardi -> The former Mayor and Council President is running for the State Rep. seat in Federal Hill in what might be one the best Democratic primary races to watch in the coming months. Lombardi is running against incumbent Mike Tarro and progressive Libby Kimzey, who sent out a fiery e-mail to supporters this week labeling her opponents “political insiders, with a stake in the old way of doing things.” Lombardi said he plans to take the high road in the race, but acknowledged that he was offended by Kimzey speaking for a neighborhood she didn’t vote from just two years ago.

David Cicilline -> The Congressman is almost certainly going to pick up the endorsement at tonight’s State Democratic convention and he continues to pick up momentum within his base. One has to wonder why opponent Anthony Gemma is bothering to chase the endorsement of groups he knows are going to support the incumbent. Why chase the progressives when you need to win old people in Pawtucket to win that race?

Jon Brien -> The Woonsocket Rep., who was unfairly ripped this week in the New York Times, by the way, is calling for the legalization of sports betting in the Ocean State. He’s got a point. Twin River’s status as a “convenience casino” is not going to win the battle against Connecticut and Massachusetts. But the benefits of sports betting would be two-fold: It would be unique to Rhode Island and sports bettors would no longer have to search for guys named Bobo to bet on the Super Bowl.

Christine C. Ferguson -> Kudos to Governor Chafee for selecting Ms. Ferguson to run the health benefits exchange. There are plenty of questions about how the system will work, but just about everyone agrees picking Ferguson was a no-brainer.

Deb Gist -> Despite Diane Ravitch’s criticism, Commissioner Gist showed exactly why there should be room for charter schools in Rhode Island when she called for the closure of the failing Academy for Career Exploration this week. No matter where one stands on education reform, it is certainly clear that one of the upsides of charters is that, in theory, if they don’t meet expectations, they will be closed. Just imagine if she could do that with Mount Pleasant.

Gary Sasse -> It appears Governor Carcieri’s former Director of Administration is considering running for Bob Watson’s open Rep. seat in East Greenwich. Sasse is one the state’s smartest finance gurus and would be a fantastic choice for the General Assembly.

Who's Not

Lincoln Chafee -> It’s been a rough week for Governor Chafee, who now has to deal with the fallout of his son’s underage drinking incident. The good news is that it doesn’t appear he knew about the party (this isn’t a Dean Esserman situation). The bad news is that he doesn’t know how to just admit that a mistake was made and end it there. Instead he chose to praise his son and suggest he was just blowing off steam, which is not exactly what the parents of that hospitalized girl want to hear from their Governor.

Yvette Jaquez -> A member of Mayor Angel Taveras’ staff, Ms. Jaquez is accused of cheating the Providence Housing Authority out of $85,000. The administration did the right thing by suspending her immediately, but this is still an inconvenience the Mayor didn’t need.

ACLU -> Everyone understands the ACLU has a job to do, but calling for Governor Chafee to veto the religious monuments bill is one of those things that just does damage to the public perception of the organization. It wasn’t an important bill, but it was one of the few things nearly every Rhode Islander supports.

Michael Donahue -> The little known Republican challenger to Brendan Doherty is throwing his hat into the ring far too late in the game and if he takes Doherty’s attention away from David Cicilline and Anthony Gemma for even a moment, he’s probably doing a disservice to his Party.

Economic Development -> Rhode Island’s business community took another hit this week when Alexion chose to move to New Haven over the Ocean State. With the unemployment rate refusing to budge, it’s difficult not to be depressed about the future of the state.

Cranston Democrats -> Not only is Mayor Fung going to win re-election in a landslide, but it appears as though several longtime Council members may be stepping away from their positions as well. While the Democrats are strong in the majority of the other large cities in the state, Cranston is at least one spot where they are losing some clout.

Providence Crime -> Great move by the city to start the anonymous gun tip line, but more certainly needs to be done to address what could be a very long summer. The shooting in broad daylight Thursday shows things could get worse before they get better.


Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected].

Follow him on Twitter - @danmcgowan


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