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

Friday, August 31, 2012


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Who’s Hot

Brendan Doherty -> The Republican Congressional candidate continues to be the biggest beneficiary of the circus taking place on the other side of aisle. Now that it appears Congressman Cicilline will win the primary handily, the latest WPRI poll suggests more than 50 percent of Anthony Gemma’s supporters will side with Doherty, which could give him enough votes to offset the increased turnout for President Obama in November.

David Cicilline -> The Congressman wasn’t totally on point during Tuesday night’s debate (he still struggles with Providence questions), but he came off as a more stable candidate than Anthony Gemma and only solidified his spot as the favorite in the race. If he ends up losing to Doherty, the Democratic establishment will be rightfully criticized for not putting up a less damaged candidate, but right now it’s easy to see why he has so much institutional support.

Lincoln Chafee -> Governor Chafee will be on the national stage Tuesday when he delivers a primetime speech at the Democratic Na    tional Convention, which will almost certainly set off more questions about whether he’ll finally make the switch to the Democratic Party. There are some who say Chafee needs a three-or-four-way race to win re-election, but having the entire Party behind him in two years probably sounds pretty appealing as well.

Barry Hinckley -> Bringing Steve Forbes to town is a pretty big deal for the Republican Senate candidate, who also released his first television commercial. Barry Hinckley is going to be interesting to watch over the next several months. Rhode Islanders know exactly what David Cicilline has done wrong, but the same can’t be said for guys like Sheldon Whitehouse or James Langevin. That’s why it’s going to be even more important for Hinckley and Mike Riley to be all over television heading into November.

John Lombardi -> With all eyes on the 1st Congressional District, there hasn’t been too much coverage of the General Assembly races lately. But with that State Rep. race on Federal Hill probably still too close to call, John Lombardi’s endorsement from the Providence Teachers Union is a win for the former Mayor and Council President. It seems the incumbent (Mike Tarro) is a nonfactor in the three-way primary (Libby Kimzey is the other candidate) and that may actually go a long way to helping Lombardi on Sept. 11.

Paul Ryan -> No one’s star is rising in the Republican Party more than the Vice Presidential nominee, who delivered the best speech of the convention this week. Ryan is too conservative for Rhode Islanders, but he’s charismatic and he’s going to be a major problem for Joe Biden in their debate.

Who’s Not

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Anthony Gemma -> The Democratic Congressional candidate had a prime opportunity to take David Cicilline to task this week for his handling of Providence’s finances, but he let Cicilline off the hook. It seems Gemma spent so much time focusing on opposition research that he skipped debate prep. His credibility took another hit Thursday when we learned his woman in the attic was also a paid volunteer.

Don Carcieri -> The former Governor sort of came out of hiding this week, but he didn’t want to talk about 38 Studios (you know, because reporters really care about what Don Carcieri thinks about Mitt Romney, right?). The crazy thing here is that no one believes Carcieri is solely to blame for bringing Curt Schilling’s video game company to the state. He might as well offer a little bit of context.

National Education Association -> There is no question that the NEA is going to have a major impact on local races year, but the powerful teachers union is making a mistake with its endorsement of Rep. Leo Medina. The embattled lawmaker may have voted against pension reform, but wouldn’t it have been easier to seek out another candidate to run in that race rather than supporting a guy with his track record?

Charles Odimgbe -> The head of RIPTA may have not been involved in the security breach scandal, but he hasn’t exactly earned high scores for his handling of the agency. It was the right call to place him on administrative leave and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him gone for good.

State GOP -> You have to feel for Rhode Island’s Republican Party. They try to get away liberal Rhode Island for a couple of days and they end up stuck on a bus for two hours on their way to the convention. Talk about a bad omen.

Clint Eastwood -> Paul Ryan may have been the star of the week, but everyone is talking about Clint Eastwood’s wacky speech Thursday night. People were excited about having Eastwood as the mystery guest, but his off-the-cuff words hijacked the evening from Governor Romney and forced an otherwise successful convention to end in bizarre fashion.

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


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