NEW: Block Calls Shekarchi Employment Bill “Job Killer”

Thursday, January 16, 2014


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Ken Block

GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Block has come out in opposition to Representative Joseph Shekarchi's (D-Warwick) "contractual right-to-employment" bill (H7055), calling it "possibly the biggest job-killer of the session."  

Block says the legislation would effectively give every terminated employee the opportunity to claim that he or she had an implied contractual right to keep the job.

“When our state is trying desperately to grow jobs and cut unemployment, what possible sense does it make to tell employers they’re opening themselves to a possible legal nightmare every time they hire a new worker,” asked Block. “Rep. Shekarchi’s bill would cut the job prospects for every unemployed Rhode Islander, except his colleagues in the legal profession."

“I can tell you that as Governor I would veto this bill in a heartbeat. I’m about creating new job opportunities, not killing them. With effective legal protections against employment discrimination already on the books, there is no conceivable need for anything like this bill," Block continued.  “Business wants stability but Rep. Shekarchi’s bill would turn stability upside down. Every employer would have to think long and hard about hiring any new workers."

Shekarchi served as General Treasurer Gina Raimondo's campaign manager in 2010.  

“Considering Rep. Shekarchi’s close association with Treasurer Raimondo, I would certainly want to know her view on his job-killing plan," said Block.  “This bill needs to be killed right now so the word goes out that Rhode Island won’t even think about doing anything this damaging to our economy. Let’s not wait til the dying hours of the session when anything can happen; let’s let the world know this job-killing plan will not pass.”

Shekarchi Responds

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Representative Joseph Shekarchi

"I introduced this bill on behalf of a constituent of mine who wants to start a debate on the issue," said Representative Shekarchi.  "I did one last year.  As you can see, I have no co-sponsors."

Shekarchi said he had talked with two representatives from the business community, but didn't anticipate the bill moving forward.

"Ken's trying to draw attention to himself and score political points," Shekarchi continued, calling it a "desperate measure" from the candidate.  

"He doesn't understand the legislative process," said Shekarchi.  


Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Block Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI

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10. Can Block convince voters he is more than a third party player?


To win in the GOP primary, Block is going to need to convince GOP primary voters that his ideals align with the fundamental beliefs of the Republican Party. 


He did get a political gift.  As GoLocalProv reported - Blocks opponent in the GOP primary, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has been a consistent donor for a decade to many of the top Democrats in the Party.


Both Block and Fung will be challenged to explain their GOP credentials.

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9. Is Block too much of a techno-candidate?


Block, the founder of a software company, love to talk about technology solutions to public policy problems. He is going to have to define his solutions to problems in a tangible way.  Often, voters connect to simple themes, "Hope and Change" or from "Head Start to Harvard." 


Block is going to need to be able to show he can connect to all Rhode Islanders - we are a retail political state.

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8. Can Block raise money?


Block has demonstrated he is serious about running - he has already invested $500,000 of his own money to win the GOP primary, but he will need an estimated $3 million to win the primary and General Election next November.


To date, his fundraising base has been small and while Fung is no Gina Raimondo in fundraising, he does have a modest Republican fundraising base.

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7. Will Block defend the behavior of National Republicans?


If 15 months from now Ted Cruz works tirelessly to close the federal government over the implementation of Obamacare, will GOP Governor Ken Block speak out on the issue? 


Will Block praise or criticize Cruz? In the primary, conservative voters may want him to praise Cruz and in the General election, the majority of voters may want him to condemn Cruz.

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6. Can Block attract RI GOP leaders?


A few weeks ago Fung announced an advisory group of prominent Republicans.  The announcement gave Fung's efforts some momentum. Block would pick up a lot of credibility if he were to peel some Fung supporters over to his team.


In addition, a number of leading Republicans have yet to make an announcement - if they break to Block it may create momentum.

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5. Can Block connect with voters in the General Election?


Assuming Block beat Fung in a GOP primary and went on to face a progressive Democrat like Providence Mayor Angel Taveras or rising star Clay Pell, can Block work the Greek Festival in Cranston or the Scituate Art Festival as well as these Democrats?


Will undecided voters connect to Block?

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4. Will Block's lack of previous elected office help or hinder?


It can be argued that never having been elected before could be perceived as a negative.


Sure, Governor Don Carcieri was never previously elected to office and Governor Bruce Sundlun had only been elected to the state's Constitutional Congress, but voters may want to be sure that Block will know a federal emergency declaration from a new software version - or will each new storm be deemed Sandy 2.0 and so on.

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3. Is Block the smartest guy in the room?


Make no mistake about it, Block is smart. Business smart, policy smart, but could he be too smart and then not be able to connect to voters.


Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar (so was Gina Raimondo), but one thing about Bill Clinton was that he could play the role of a good ol' boy as good as anyone. He could make any voter feel right at home.


Block will need to channel his intelligence into a language and approach that connects to the CEO he is asking to support his effort as equally as asking a unemployed mom in Pawtucket.

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2. How will he handle the plethora of special interests?


This time Block will have to answer the questionnaire from the FOP, the Right-to-Life groups, the Environment Council, MADD, the Teamsters, The Northern RI Chamber of Commerce, NEA-RI, arts advocacy groups, the NAACP, and you get the picture.


Consistency will matter. One group's endorsement will spark another groups condemnation. Mr. Block, welcome to the 2014 governor's race.

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1. Can he handle the hot lights?


The one thing about being the third or fourth candidate in a race is people remember the smart things you said, but don't pay much attention to the dumb things you said. Heck, you really didn't have a real chance to win so the assessment is not very stringent.


This time will be different. He needs to run not one but two nearly flawless races to be the next Governor of Rhode Island. His effort in 2010 will help him, but this time he has a real chance to win and the stakes are much higher


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