RI State Report: Fung the Democrat, Cianci Advises GOP + More

Saturday, November 16, 2013


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This week’s State Report centers on a story that GoLocal reported earlier this week involving Republican Mayor of Cranston and current gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung once considering running for city council as a Democrat. Additionally, we’ll examine a speech given this week by former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci to the Rhode Island GOP. Also on the docket, gubernatorial campaign shakeups and a big mayoral endorsement.

Fung Sought to Run for City Council as a Democrat

Republican Mayor of Cranston and current gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung once considered running for Cranston City Council as a Democrat, former Republican Mayor of Cranston Stephen Laffey told GoLocal on Thursday.

According to Laffey, Fung went to the Cranston Democratic Committee in 2002 to express interest in running for City Council, but was told by City Democrats that they were not interested in him as a candidate.

Laffey told GoLocal that Fung then went to his office where the former mayor encouraged Fung to run as a Republican. Subsequently, Fung was elected to the Cranston City Council as a Republican in 2003 and served as a city-wide Councilman until 2007.

Fung, who had mentioned his switch from the Democrats to the Republicans on WPRI's Newsmakers last weekend, said that the former had no room for him, and he switched parties in part for aligning on fiscal matters.

In the same appearance, Fung criticized his gubernatorial opponent Ken Block for his support of Democrats like President Barack Obama and Governor Lincoln Chafee.

GoLocal reached out to Fung’s campaign consultant Patrick Sweeney for comment, but our requests were not returned.

Democratic Donations

Earlier this month, GoLocal first reported that Fung has donated money to some of the most prominent Democrats in the state, including David Cicilline, Gordon Fox, and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. In fact, Fung donated $1,000 to Taveras during the 2010 Providence Mayoral Race while Republican Daniel Harrop was still a candidate.

2014 Race for Governor

Fung, who announced his candidacy for governor last week, will square off against former Moderate Party gubernatorial candidate Block in next September’s Republican Primary. According to GoLocal's ongoing "GOP Governor Nominee: Block or Fung" poll, Fung has received 2,611 votes compared to 1,877 for Block. Click here if you would like to cast your vote.

On the Democratic side, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who announced his candidacy last month, is currently the only major candidate to join the race. General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who brought in Cicilline’s former campaign manager Eric Hyers on Wednesday, is expected to announce her candidacy by the end of the year.

GoLocal first reported last month that Clay Pell, grandson of the late six-term Senator Claiborne Pell, is also considering entering the race. Todd Giroux, who ran as an Independent in 2010, announced last month that he’d run as a Democrat in 2014.

Check out more news from the week below


Related Slideshow: RI State Report: More News of the Week

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Cianci Advises GOP

Former Mayor Cianci Offers strategy to RI GOP.

Former Republican and Independent Mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci was invited to speak at Wednesday night’s Rhode Island Republican Party Meeting to offer strategy and guidance to the state GOP.

Cianci, who hosts a weekday talk show on 630 WPRO-AM, told GoLocal on Friday that his speech mainly consisted of advising the GOP on how to rebrand themselves and how to win elections.

According to Cianci, he told attendees that the GOP should focus on bigger issues like the 38 Studios debacle and the state’s high unemployment rate in order to connect with voters.

The former mayor also urged the GOP to stay away from sensitive issues especially those involving guns. Speaking in reference to last month’s GOP gun raffle, which raffled off an AR-15-style assault rifle, Cianci told GoLocal “It’s not the way to go. Main Street doesn’t support that.”

Cianci told GoLocal that his speech, which lasted roughly 40 minutes, was well received by the crowd.

Cianci, who identifies himself as an Independent, told GoLocal that he would also speak to the Rhode Island Democratic Party if invited.

Aside from discussing Wednesday night’s speech, GoLocal also spoke to Cianci about the prospect of him running for mayor in 2014. Cianci, who is the longest-serving mayor in Providence history, told GoLocal “never say never,” but would not comment any further.

Cianci served as mayor of Providence from 1975 to 1984 and again from 1991 to 2002.

The current field of 2014 Democratic mayoral candidates includes City Council President Michael Solomon, former Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza, former Water Supply Board Chairman Brett Smiley, and Lorne Adrain, managing director at Ballentine Partners. State Representative and former Acting Mayor of Providence John Lombardi also told GoLocal that he is seriously considering running.

The winner of the Democratic Primary will face Republican Dr. Daniel Harrop, who is running for mayor for the third time.

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Capellan Endorses Elorza

Former Providence mayoral candidate Capellan endorses Elorza for mayor.

On Friday, Victor Capellan, a former Providence mayoral candidate endorsed former Providence Housing Court judge Jorge Elorza for mayor.

Capellan, the deputy superintendent of schools in Central Falls, told GoLocal the following:

“I have made the decision to support Jorge Elorza in the Providence Mayoral race because I believe that he is the ideal candidate to lead our city. After meeting with him several times and learning more about his work and his plans, I am confident in his skills, knowledge, vision and passion for our city. I have known Jorge since his days as a student in the Talent Development program at URI and I know and trust that he will be able to move forward the important issues we both believe in and care about.”

Capellan pulled out the Providence Mayoral race in September.

He served as the deputy manager of Angel Taveras' successful mayoral campaign in 2010.

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Fung's New Hires

Fung beefs up gubernatorial campaign staff.

On Thursday, Mayor Allan Fung announced the addition of three new consultants to his gubernatorial campaign staff— Robert Coupe, Esq., Kyle Regan and Paula Smith.

"I'm very excited to bring Rob, Kyle and Paula onto Team Fung. All three share the vision of a better Rhode Island. I know they will do a great job. I feel privileged to have them on our team."

Coupe, who is experienced in Rhode Island politics, will be focusing on political operations. Coupe is a business attorney and political consultant with more than twenty years of experience managing and advising state and federal campaigns in Rhode Island. He was a policy advisor and spokesman for the late U.S. Senator John Chafee. Most recently serving as a strategic political consultant to the Doherty for Congress Campaign.

Regan will be focusing on multimedia, field and volunteer operations. Regan has an Associate’s Degree in Television and Radio Production and has been working in all aspects of media for almost a decade. Last cycle, Kyle was the Director of Multimedia for the Hinckley for US Senate.

Smith will be focusing on fundraising operations. Most recently, she worked for Junior Achievement of Rhode Island and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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Hyers Joins Raimondo Team

Cicilline’s former campaign manager joins Raimondo team.

Eric Hyers, the former campaign manager for Congressman David Cicilline’s 2012 re-election campaign, has joined General Treasurer and likely 2014 gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo’s team.

Raimondo, who has not yet announced whether she will run for governor in 2014, confirmed the move on Wednesday, but did not reveal what Hyers’ role would be.

Hyers, a Massachusetts native, told GoLocal, “My job is to get Gina and her team ready for her end of the year deadline.”

After graduating from Skidmore College in 2006, Hyers began his political career as a field organizer for Kristen Gillibrand’s successful Congressional campaign and later served as a field organizer on former presidential candidate John Edwards’ 2007-2008 Iowa caucus campaign.

Hyers went on to manage Cicilline’s congressional campaign in 2010, as well as his re-election campaign in 2012.

Earlier this year, Hyers managed New Jersey State Senator Nia Gill’s successful re-election campaign earlier this year. Most recently, Hyers managed Massachusetts State Senator Karen Spilka’s unsuccessful Congressional bid.

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Prison Reform Bill

Sen. Whitehouse introduces bipartisan prison reform bill.

U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Rob Portman (R-OH) have introduced legislation that would help lower costs and reduce recidivism. Known as the  Recidivism Reduction & Public Safety Act of 2013 (S. 1675), the bill would allow inmates to earn sentence-reduction credit for completing programming aimed at helping them re-enter society – potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars in federal spending, according to the Senators.

 “As a former state and federal prosecutor, I recognize that there are no easy solutions to overflowing prison populations and skyrocketing corrections spending,” said Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for Rhode Island.  “But states like Rhode Island have shown that it is possible to cut prison costs while making the public safer.  Inmates better prepared to re-enter communities reduce the risk that they will commit more offenses when they are released.  This bipartisan bill would help us achieve those goals at the federal level, potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars and reducing the prison population.”

The Recidivism Reduction & Public Safety Act would:

  • Require the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to offer evidence-based recidivism reduction programming based on each inmate’s assessed needs.  Under the bill, an inmate who successfully participates in a recidivism-reduction program could receive a credit toward his or her sentence of no more than 60 days per year of program participation, which could be awarded at the sole discretion of BOP.
  • Require BOP, for the first time, to develop a methodology to assess the recidivism risk and programmatic needs of each inmate who will be released back into the community.
  • Promote substance abuse treatment and recovery by requiring the collection of additional information about drug and alcohol abuse among federal inmates and ensuring that inmates who participate in BOP’s Residential Drug Abuse Program receive full credit for their participation.
  • Require more detailed reporting on rates of recidivism among former federal inmates.
  • Require a study on the impact of reentry on communities with a high number of ex-offenders.
  • Authorize a pilot program, modeled after the successful HOPE Program in Hawaii and similar programs in Kentucky and elsewhere, which requires intensive supervision for ex-offenders with a heightened risk of recidivism.


The Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the bill in December.

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Artist Wanted

State seeks artists to paint official Chafee portrait.

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts has issued a call for artists interested in being considered for a commission of up to $15,000.00 to produce an oil painting as the official portrait of Governor Lincoln D. Chafee.

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, a state agency, is managing the process on behalf of the Portrait Commission and is gathering digital images representing the work of professional portrait artists for consideration of the Governor.

Chafee will choose an artist from among these submissions, and a commission will be offered for an official portrait. The chosen artist will be required to work with and receive direction from the Governor regarding certain aspects of this commission, and work with the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission with respect to framing of the finished portrait.

Artists interested in being considered for the commission should visit the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts web site at http://www.arts.ri.gov/portrait for more information and a link to an online application. Applications will be submitted through CallforEntry.org, a web-based artist application process. Artists will be asked to submit a resume and upload no less than six and no more than ten digital images of previously commissioned work. Interested artists have until Friday, January 10, 2014 to submit samples of their work through the online system. 

Online applications must be submitted on or before Friday, January 10, 2014. We anticipate that a decision will be made by no later than April 2014.

For further information please contact Randall Rosenbaum via email.

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Cicilline's New Bill

Cicilline joins bipartisan effort to support American entrepreneurs.

Congressman David Cicilline joined Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) and U.S. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) on Wednesday to introduce a resolution that would designate November 30, 2013, as Small Business Saturday.

“I am proud to work across the aisle to introduce this resolution and stand with more than 93,000 small businesses that make up the backbone of Rhode Island’s economy,” said Cicilline. “Small Business Saturday is a commonsense, bipartisan effort to support the hardworking men and women who create jobs and bring life to our local communities, and I look forward to working with members of both parties to support this initiative.”

Aside from the Small Business Saturday measure, Cicilline has also introduced the Make It in America Manufacturing Act, which is designed to help small manufacturers retool their facilities and retrain workers with the skills they need to compete for current manufacturing jobs.

Cicilline also plans to support Rhode Island small businesses this year with a tour through the First District for Small Business Saturday.


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