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

Friday, August 17, 2012


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Who’s Hot

Anthony Gemma -> He’s run one of the most unorthodox campaigns in recent memory, but with less than a month before the Democratic primary, everyone is talking about David Cicilline’s opponent. While Gemma’s hyperbole can’t be understated, his claim that he’ll unveil rampant voter fraud next week certainly has people wondering (and in some cases, worrying) about what he has.

Brendan Doherty -> With the Democratic primary becoming a circus, the Republican candidate can sit back and relax and sell himself as the issues-based candidate in the race for the next several weeks. The one problem for Doherty is that if Gemma somehow manages to sneak away with a win over Cicilline, the “uncommon integrity” strategy will go out the window and he’ll be at square one. That possibility has to be at least some cause for concern for the state GOP.

David Cicilline -> While his primary opponent gears up for what appears to be a massive opposition research drop, the Congressman actually picked up a big win this week when the Brookings Institution praised his Make It In America Block Grant. It’s another feather in the cap for a guy desperate to make this Congressional race about Washington and not Providence.

Lincoln Chafee -> Well he’s not a Democrat yet, but he might as well be. The Governor’s office has confirmed that the former Republican Senator will be attending the Democratic National Convention early next month. This, of course, will set off a new round of speculation that he’ll wind up in a three-way primary with Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Mayor Angel Taveras in 2014, but here’s a different thought: If Obama wins re-election, maybe Chafee will opt against running for re-election and take an appointment from the President instead.

Frank Pallotta -> Congratulations to the head of Burrillville schools on being named the Superintendent of the Year in Rhode Island. All too often the focus on teachers and educators is negative, but it’s nice to see people honored for the hard work they do every single day.

Paul Ryan -> The polls suggest the Wisconsin Congressman may not move the needle when it comes to the Presidential race, but Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential selection is certainly a more exciting choice than Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman. Ryan has to overcome being labeled as the guy who led the effort to privatize Social Security, but he also carries with him those conservative credentials that may fire up Romney’s base.

Who’s Not

Leo Medina -> The embattled State Rep. is claiming his latest arrest is simply a political ploy, but he doesn’t exactly have a track record for being the most honest guy in state. Medina was dealt another blow this week when, after being arrested for impersonating a lawyer, Mayor Angel Taveras endorsed his Democratic opponent Joe Almeida. Ironically, in 2010, it was probably the increased turnout for Taveras on the South Side that got Medina elected to office, even though the two have never seen eye to eye.

Peter Petrarca & Greg Costantino -> You know who the biggest winner of last week’s District 44 debate on WPRI’s Newsmakers was? Republican James Archer. After watching the two Democrats mumble and stumble their way through that debate, this race should have automatically shot to the top of the state GOP’s priority list.
Lisa Baldelli-Hunt -> It appears Rep. Baldelli-Hunt, who led the effort against a supplemental tax hike in Woonsocket, is looking awfully vulnerable in her primary race against Michael Morin. If organized labor wants to make a major splash this election season, helping a firefighter unseat a well-known incumbent like Baldelli-Hunt would go a long way. That Democratic primary also includes a third candidate, Stuart Gitlow.

Providence Housing Authority -> It appears the end is near for the seven-month long saga that led to the resignation of the agency’s longtime executive director Stephen O’Rourke. But it’s worth pointing out that the board’s leadership has done a poor job with its handling of the situation and it’s a shame that they refuse to release a report funded by taxpayers on exactly what O’Rourke did or didn’t do to lose his job.

George Mason -> It’s pretty disgusting to learn that this candidate for the state retirement board was campaigning outside his wife’s (Chief District Court Judge Jeanne LaFazia) office. While it may not have been improper, certainly one must question Mr. Mason’s decision-making ability.

Joe Biden -> Paul Ryan may have an elderly-person problem, but the Vice President’s foot-in-mouth disease only appears to be getting worse. While it’s doubtful that he’ll be replaced on the ticket, Biden continues to cause headaches for President Obama at the most inopportune times.

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


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