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

Friday, November 16, 2012

 

Who’s Hot

Gordon Fox -> House lawmakers overwhelmingly endorsed Gordon Fox for another term as Speaker last week and those close to Fox are now downplaying any challenge come January. Fox can even point to support from several legislators who were with Greg Schadone in 2010, which means the number of potential opponents is limited. The biggest question mark is former Majority WHIP J. Patrick O’Neill, who did not attend the caucus.

Jim Langevin -> Kudos to Congressman Langevin for calling for the Senate to fill the vacant positions on the Election Assistance Commission. Across the country, problems at the polls caused long lines and confusion that in some cases, has left races still undecided more than a week later. Here’s hoping he continues to push for changes.

David Boies -> The hot shot New York lawyer has agreed to join the state’s defense team in the pension reform lawsuit and is accepting just $50 per hour. The unions have a compelling case that clearly has the state concerned (why else would they try to remove Judge Taft-Carter?) but Boies certainly gives a boost.

George Caruolo -> One of the state’s most powerful insiders has been tapped to become the chairman of the state’s new Board of Education, which was created when the legislature voted to merge the state’s two education boards during the last legislative session. Caruolo’s appointment is widely considered to be a gift to the legislature; it will be interesting to see whether it pays off for the Governor in 2014.

John Loughlin -> Anchor Rising was first to report that Mark Zaccaria won’t seek another term as chairman of the State GOP and Loughlin, a former State Rep. and Congressional candidate, has already had his name thrown around as a possible successor. Loughlin is a smart, charismatic guy who has strong relationships with the press and a lot of support within the party. If he’s interested in the position, it might be a great move for the Republicans.

Who’s Not

M. Teresa Paiva Weed -> The Senate President is deservedly catching heat for the WPRI report that she has been using a state vehicle (with a state employee as a driver) to cart her around to political events. To her credit, she sounds willing to consider giving up the costly perk, but at a time when the General Assembly is facing a ton of scrutiny, that story had to hurt.

AFSCME Local 1012 -> Everyone laughed at the idea of recalling Governor Chafee last year, but it seems this union will consider attempting to recall Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien over his decision to privatize trash pickup. If they can pull it off, it would show the entire state just how powerful unions can be; but Pawtucket elections come every two years and they might be better suited finding an opponent for Grebien in 2014.

Charlie Lombardi -> One largely overlooked matter in last week’s election was the situation in North Providence where Council President Kristen Catanzaro easily cruised to victory despite Mayor Lombardi backing her opponent. Lombardi has done a lot of good in the town, but it will be interesting to see whether that frosty relationship with Council leadership will hurt him over the next few years.

West Warwick -> The town failed to reach an agreement on how to address its struggling pension system and now it sounds like it won’t be long before Department of Revenue director Rosemary Booth Gallogly intervenes. It’s sad, but it’s looking more and more like West Warwick may be the next town to go under.

RI Unemployment -> The unemployment rate continues to decline at a remarkably slow rate and this month’s report showed the state actually lost 2,500 jobs in October. There are plenty of important issues to take up in the 2013 legislative session, but the top priority has to be to find a way to stimulate job creation in the state.

 

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

 

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