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

Friday, December 23, 2011


Who’s Hot

George Zainyeh -> The Governor picked a savvy political veteran to run his office in 2012. The well-liked Zainyeh knows how to put out fires (he was Patrick Kennedy’s top local aide) and he is likely to help improve relationships with General Assembly members. A smart move heading into the new year.

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Angel Taveras -> Saving the local libraries was a nice way to end a turbulent first year in office for the Providence Mayor. It will be interesting to see how he handles year two when people stop connecting David Cicilline with every decision he makes.

Don Grebien -> For all the cities and towns that appear to be in meltdown mode, Pawtucket’s bond rating has improved under the new Mayor in his first year. Mayor Grebien has an election year in 2012 and what appears to be a battle looming with the fire union, but he has to consider year one a success.

Mark Zaccaria -> The new chairman of the state GOP has a long battle ahead if he hopes to turn his Party around. But with a winnable Congressional seat and a number of General Assembly seats in play in 2012, he might be coming in at the perfect time.

Anthony Gemma -> The buzz is that he is almost certain to run against David Cicilline next year. The question is whether he’ll be able to put together a strong enough ground game to take out the embattled incumbent. No one outworks the Congressman and he’ll have the full support of the Party. But Gemma will likely win Blackstone Valley running away and could have a serious chance to win the seat.

Arianne Lynch -> Excellent hire by the Taveras administration to bring in Lynch as Deputy Chief of Staff. She has been recruited by the city since before the Mayor took office and has to consider this a victory heading into the new year.

Libby Kimzey -> Kimzey saw an outpouring of progressive support following the announcement that she would run for the House seat in District 8. She faces a difficult matchup with a guy who cruised to victory in 2010, but she’s going to have the money and the ground game to make life very difficult for Mike Tarro next year.

Who’s Not

Congress -> Yes, they ultimately reached a deal on the payroll tax cuts, but simply kicking the can down the road for two months still leaves plenty of long-term questions. And it does nothing to change the public’s miserable perception of Congress.

Pat Rogers -> It’s difficult to blame the Governor’s former Chief of Staff for every PR blunder in the first year, but that’s what happens when you have that job. Now it’s up to George Zainyeh to pick up the pieces.

Robert Pelletier -> A sad situation in Cranston where this City Councilman is no longer living in his ward due to a financial hardship. While one has to feel bad for the Councilman, it’s hard to represent your constituents when you don’t even live among them.

East Providence -> Another blow to the finances of East Providence as the Governor appointed a budget commission this week. It sounded like things were turning around for the struggling town, but its bond rating is in the tank and folks are starting to get concerned about another Central Falls situation.

Voter ID -> Groups are once again questioning the new Voter ID laws, asking for the Board of Elections to provide some guidelines heading into the 2012 elections. Rhode Island could be the model for voter ID throughout the country, but that isn’t something the more liberal groups want anything to do with.

Occupy Providence -> It looks like the tents in Burnside Park will be coming down and while the protesters might not totally disappear, it’s difficult to imagine this group having much of an impact in 2012.

Jim Baron -> At this point, would URI basketball even win the high school state championship?


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