12 to Watch in 2012: George Zainyeh

Friday, December 30, 2011


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Brought in to mend fences? George Zainyeh.

His boss has ticked off every political group in the state--from Tea Party Republicans to pot smoking progressives--in his first year in office. So how can George Zainyeh, the new Chief of Staff for Governor Lincoln Chafee, mend fences in 2012? 

By providing some stability to an office that spent much of 2011 putting out public relations fires caused by a Governor who has little regard for playing the game of politics.  

Zainyeh, the ultimate insider, knows a thing or two about dealing with public relations nightmares (he served as Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s District Director) and he might have a better relationship with General

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Assembly leadership than anyone in the Chafee administration.  

His primary goal will be working to make sure the public understands the positive work Chafee has done while trying to push the Governor’s 2012 agenda, which will include addressing municipal pension plans and quite possibly, another swing at broadening the sales tax. 

The problem, of course, will be dealing with a Governor who can’t seem to stop himself from infuriating half of the state with virtually everything he says. From a talk radio ban to in-state tuition to the holiday tree, Chafee was forced to deal with recall efforts and rallies virtually every time he took a stand on anything this year.  

With public sentiment for politicians at an all-time low and Chafee’s approval rating at just 27 percent according to the latest Brown University poll, it is unlikely the critics will disappear in 2012. 

That will leave Zainyeh with a lot on his plate in the coming year. But if there is anyone up for handling the job of Chief of Staff for Governor Chafee, one political analyst told GoLocalprov Zainyeh is the guy. 

“George Zainyeh will be perfect in that job,” the source said. “He knows how to put out fires, he’s well-liked and he thoroughly enjoys the game.  A great pick by the Governor.” 

Chafee sure hopes so.


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