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

Friday, December 14, 2012


Who’s Hot

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James Diossa -> As expected, the 27-year-old easily won his race for Mayor against former Police Chief Joseph Moran III on Tuesday. It was the right choice at the right time for a city that desperately needs someone or something to rally around. And while inexperience will undoubtedly be an issue, Diossa will be able to call on any number of successful Mayors –Angel Taveras, Dan McKee, Don Grebien— to provide advice as he works to rebuild the city.

Angel Taveras -> The Providence Police Union’s vote to support the city’s pension reform settlement came at a perfect time for the Mayor. Now he can sit back and watch as General Treasurer Gina Raimondo continues to face pressure to head back to the negotiating table with the statewide unions over the same issue.

Jeff Padwa -> Speaking of Providence, the City Solicitor’s office picked up a big win this week when a federal court upheld an ordinance that prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products in the city. It’s a notch in the belt for Padwa, who many believe has a real chance of being named the next chairman of the state Democratic Party and, down the line, a potential candidate for Attorney General.

Mike Solomon -> The Providence City Council President hasn’t made his candidacy for Mayor official yet (he’ll wait until Taveras makes a decision), but look for him to really begin building his war chest over the next nine months. If he can raise as much money as those close to him are suggesting, he should be able to scare off the majority of potential opponents in 2014.

Xaykham “Xay” Khamsyvoravong -> As RIPR first reported, Frank Caprio’s former campaign manager has been named a Vice President at Webster Bank. Xay is considered one of the good guys in local politics and here’s hoping he is successful in his new gig.

John Kerry -> With Susan Rice out of the running for Secretary of the State, it appears as though Kerry may be the favorite, which would leave an open Senate seat in Massachusetts. Kerry has long been viewed as a potential successor to Hillary Clinton and while there will be plenty of critics, don’t be surprised if Republicans take it easy on the former Presidential candidate. After all, Kerry’s appointment would open a door for Scott Brown.

Who’s Not

EngageRI -> The pro-pension reform advocacy group wasn’t a huge player in the 2012 elections, but now the organization is coming under fire after the Wall Street Journal reported that a Texas billionaire made a significant contribution to the group’s efforts. The criticism is fair. EngageRI should be forced to reveal its donors.

Wyatt Detention Center -> The Central Falls prison was forced to pay out a hefty settlement to the family of the Chinese man who died of liver cancer in 2008. Wyatt looks like it could end up being one of the problems Mayor-elect Diossa may have to address early in his first term.

Gary Alexander -> Governor Carcieri’s former Secretary of Health and Human Services is getting beat up in the news in Pennsylvania after a report showed that he has spent thousands of tax dollars making dozens of trips between the state and Rhode Island. At a time when people around the country are so concerned with debt, this is just something you can’t get away with.

Board of Governors for Higher Education -> To no fault of its own, the Board of Governor’s for Higher Education is now more after holding its final meeting this week. It looks like there will be another effort made to postpone the merger of the state’s twp education boards, but it appears highly unlikely this group has much hope of staying alive.

Big East -> It was the darling of college basketball only a few years ago, but with so many of its top schools jumping ship to join football powerhouse conferences, the Big East appears to be on its last legs. And now that the catholic schools apparently want out, the conference may be out of options.


Editor's Note: The original version of this piece included an incorrect age for Mayor-elect James Diossa

Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.


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