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

Friday, January 11, 2013


Who’s Hot

Governor Chafee -> The Governor’s push for more transparency within Rhode Island government is a step in the right direction for a state that is notoriously finicky when it comes to releasing public records. Here’s hoping his next push is to continue to strengthen the public records laws moving forward.

Ken McKay -> Congratulations are in order for one of the most well-liked guys in Rhode Island politics, who was recently named political director for the Republican Governor's Association. McKay ran both of Don Carcieri’s successful campaigns for Governor and served briefly as the chairman of the State GOP. One would imagine McKay’s role within in the national GOP could provide a boost to Rhode Island's Republican nominee for Governor in 2014.

Gina Raimondo -> The General Treasurer is always going to have pension reform hanging over her head, but she’s proving she’s going to make it awfully difficult for progressives not to agree with her on many other issues leading up the 2014 Governor’s race. Raimondo came out in full support of same-sex marriage this week and will likely play a major role in the payday lending reform debate this year, two issues progressives hold close their hearts.

William Conley -> He’s not a household name yet, but this first-term Senator could end up being the deciding vote on same-sex marriage in the Senate Judiciary committee this year. At least one of his former colleagues on the East Providence Town Council believes he’ll be a no vote on the issue, but gay marriage advocates say they want to give him the benefit of the doubt and let him read the legislation first.

Will Farrell -> If 2012 was the year that helped Providence Mayor Angel Taveras become a leading candidate in the Governor’s race, 2013 will be the year he’ll need to avoid pitfalls. That’s where Farrell, who was quietly promoted to Deputy Director of Municipal Affairs last year, comes into play. Look for this savvy 20-something to play a key role in helping the Mayor keep the peace politically while still moving forward with his agenda.

John Igliozzi -> The Providence Councilman is pushing for the removal of the homestead exemption for banks that foreclose on a property. Here’s hoping the plan will stop banks from sitting on a vacant home for too long, which only damages property values across the city.

Who’s Not

EngageRI -> The pension reform advocacy group has done its job very well since it was formed in 2011, but its refusal to reveal its donors’ names makes it appear as though it has something to hide. That secrecy could come back to bite its political supporters –particularly Gina Raimondo—in a few years.

Vinny Paz -> He used to be one of those “only in Rhode Island” characters that everyone loved, but it’s time for the former boxer to get some help and disappear from the public light. Paz was arrested after acting like a fool (again) over $23 bar tab in Warwick Wednesday night.

Payday Lending -> It sounds like payday lending will again be a major issue on Smith Hill this year, but so much depends on how much House Speaker Gordon Fox is willing to budge. Look for some type of legislation that will make changes around margins to pass, but don’t expect significant reform in 2013.

Bishop Tobin -> The Bishop is excellent at his job, but it’s time to stop pressuring lawmakers over same-sex marriage. This is a battle he can’t win with anyone under the age of 35 and it would be nice to see him use massive influence on more productive issues.

State Representatives Palangio, DeSimone, Diaz, Guthrie, Azzinaro, Silva, San Bento, Gallison and Senator Pearson -> These 9 lawmakers, most of whom didn’t even have serious races last November, are currently opposed to abolishing the so-called Master Lever, the out-of-date method that allows for straight ticket voting during elections. Here’s hoping this group will reconsider and that by 2014, the Master Lever will be no more.


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