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

Friday, July 06, 2012


Who’s Hot

Jack Reed -> Nice to see Senate Reed get some recognition for helping prevent student loan rates from doubling for the time being. He’ll be on hand today as President Obama signs the bill that includes an extension on federal transportation funding as well. It’s unfortunate that our politicians seem to just kick the can down the road on these issues, but at least Congress has another year to figure out how to keep low-interest loans intact for millions of current and former students.

Gordon Fox -> The Speaker’s announcement that he’ll push for a gay marriage voter early in the 2013 session was brilliant on two fronts: He helped reenergize a base that may have been disappointed that marriage equality was barely discussed on Smith Hill this year and he was able to pivot away from questions about his role in the 38 Studios debacle.

Brendan Doherty -> The Republican Congressional candidate appears to have put together yet another strong fundraising quarter by raking in over $200,000. Aside from a poor interview or two (which only insiders remember anyway) Doherty has done just about everything right in his run for Congress so far.

Scott Avedisian -> Kudos to the Warwick Mayor for signing contracts with his police and fire unions that he says will reduce the city’s public safety unfunded pension liability by $30 million. Mayor Avedisian has flown under the radar as a potential statewide candidate in 2014, but he’s one of the most popular Republicans in that state and has a lot of name recognition. With an open Lt. Governor’s seat, he has to at least be considering his options.

Steny Hoyer -> The House Minority Whip is in town Friday to stump for both Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline. One thing our Congressional delegation deserves credit for is they always seem to recruit the big Washington names to the state. We’ve seen Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Obama here in less than a year.

Matt Jerzyk -> Congrats to the city of Providence’s new Deputy City Solicitor. As RI Public Radio first reported, Jerzyk is leaving his position as director of policy, municipal affairs and senior counsel to Mayor Taveras to work under Jeff Padwa. There are people who believe Padwa may one day run for office himself, which could put Jerzyk on track to make the jump to the top job if he plays his cards right.

Who’s Not

John J. Whiting -> It was certainly one of those “only in Rhode Island” moments this week when the North Providence Police Chief was found guilty stealing $714 from a stripper during last summer’s Tropical Storm Irene. Sadly, in another “only in Rhode Island” moment, he’ll probably receive no prison time.

Michael Gardiner -> You know you’re not a serious candidate when kids are raising more money from their lemonade stands this summer than you are for a Congressional campaign. At this rate, Mr. Gardiner might have enough cash to run for school committee somewhere in Rhode Island… in 2017.

William and Marielle Reilly -> While their tax dodging should not reflect poorly on their son (Rep. Dan Reilly), it was nice to see the Supreme Court come down hard on the Reilly’s. Let’s hope these folks get their act together and pay what they owe the state.

Rhoda Perry -> Senator Perry deserves a lot of praise for her two-decade career in the General Assembly, but the way she went out raises a lot of suspicion. Because she wasn’t the endorsed candidate in the race, it appears as though she was trying to quietly hand her seat off to a handpicked successor, which is normally a move reserved for only the sleaziest politicians.

Anthony Gemma -> Sad news this week to learn of the Democratic Congressional candidate’s divorce, but wasn’t it kind of bizarre that he made the announcement on Facebook?

Hispanic Unemployment -> For the second straight year, Providence had by far the worst unemployment rate among Hispanics in the country. At 23.3 percent, no community was within six percentage points of the capital city.


Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected].


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