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

Friday, November 09, 2012


Who’s Hot

David Cicilline -> The Congressman completed the comeback story of 2012 by cruising past Brendan Doherty in Tuesday’s election. For all the talk of the Congressman misleading the public by saying Providence was in “excellent” fiscal condition, the truth is it was Doherty’s suggesting that Mitt Romney would be “fantastic” for Rhode Island that was the most damaging sound bite of the election cycle.

Same-Sex Marriage -> The same-sex marriage advocates claimed several victories on Tuesday, but will it be enough to convince the Senate to vote on a marriage bill this year? It sounds like there will be at least some effort from the Senate to leave it up to the voters, but House Speaker Gordon Fox says he’s against placing civil rights questions on the ballot.

Antonio Giarrusso -> If there was any bright spot for the Republican Party on Tuesday, it was Representative-elect Giarrusso in District 30. Giarrusso mostly flew under the radar this election season, but he was the only non-incumbent Republican to pick up a seat in the General Assembly this year.

Peter Baptista & Nick Hemond -> No behind-the-scenes players saw their stock rise more than the two consultants who helped get House Speaker Gordon Fox re-elected. The two founders of the Hamilton Group had a hand in several General Assembly victories this year (Cale Keable, Ken Marshall, Marvin Abney), but Fox’s campaign was clearly their signature win.

Tom Coderre & Stephen Iannazzi -> Speaking of behind-the-scenes, the State Senate races didn’t receive nearly as much attention as some of the House races, and that’s largely thanks the efforts of Coderre and Iannazzi, who helped Hanna Gallo, Paul Fogarty and James Sheehan win tough races and managed to dismantle the already-tiny Republican caucus.

Harold Metts, Grace Diaz, & Scott Slater -> Nailbiters may be more interesting, but these three General Assembly members all recorded at least 90 percent of the vote against their opponents on Tuesday. Now that’s impressive. It’s also worth noting that incoming House member Tom Palangio also won with over 90 percent.

Organized Labor -> From the federal level all the way down to local school committees, the unions did it again. Organized labor won just about General Election race they targeted and even pulled off a few upsets, most notably Linda Finn’s surprising victory over Dan Reilly in District 72. You don’t have to like them, but they understand politics and messaging in Rhode Island and it continues to pay off. To that end, Bob Plain and the RI Future blog also deserve credit for seemingly going undefeated with all the candidates they supported Tuesday.

Who’s Not

State GOP -> You can blame the electorate all you want, but in the end, it all comes down to messaging. Brendan Doherty, Barry Hinckley and Mike Riley were all smart men with the right intentions, but Doherty was tied to Paul Ryan, Hinckley signed Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge and Mike Riley pitched himself as a Wall Street guy at a time when the public hates Wall Street. And in a state that had the highest Latino unemployment rate in the country in 2011, Republicans across the state again failed to connect with minority voters.

Mike Riley -> He’s a far kinder man than his concession speech suggests, but Mike Riley is wrong to blame the media for not covering him enough this year. While the Brendan Doherty and Barry Hinckley campaigns were on the phone with reporters nearly every day, Riley did very little to pick up earned media. When you rarely send news releases or hold press conferences, it’s difficult to get your message across.

Leo Medina -> One bright spot for the General Assembly in 2013: Fewer accused criminals.

Edward Johnson -> While the reclusive head of the Working Families Coalition seems to have won every race he targeted in 2012, the mailer that blamed outgoing State Senator Beth Moura for 38 Studios even though she wasn’t in the General Assembly in 2010 was downright disgusting.

Angelo Padula -> The West Warwick Council President won’t be in that leadership post for long. Padula held on to his seat, but he’s now on the wrong side of a 4-1 Council.

Board of Elections -> From long lines to wrong ballots at certain polling places, Tuesday was not a great day for the Board of Elections. Here’s hoping state leaders take a long look at the mistakes made this year and correct them for 2014.


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


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