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

Friday, October 26, 2012


Who's Hot

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Gina Raimondo -> The General Treasurer continues to pick up positive coverage from the national press, this time being named a “Brave Thinker” by The Atlantic. And just in case she needs any extra support, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, one of the most popular Democrats in the country, took to Facebook to say he hopes she runs for Governor (the two went to college together). Raimondo is nearing the one-year anniversary of the state’s pension overhaul; now her hope is that the courts won’t overturn her work.

Barry Hinckley -> State Republicans are suddenly jazzed up about the prospect of the Senate candidate closing in on first-term Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Hinckley delivered a strong debate performance (kudos to both candidates for mostly sticking to the issues) and can now point to a GOP poll that has him within 10 points (two local polls had him down by more than 20 earlier this month). A victory would probably be one of the biggest upsets in the country, but don’t be surprised if the National GOP suddenly starts paying a little more attention to this race over the final two weeks.

Jim Langevin -> The veteran Congressman remains a solid favorite to win re-election and this week picked up the endorsement from the American Nurses Association. The Congressman also did a nice job with his attack ad on Republican Michael Riley and while Riley has certainly been a formidable challenger, he might need another two years before he can really close in on Langevin (Riley says he is only running one time).

Scott Brown -> You have to wonder what Republican candidates Brendan Doherty and Barry Hinckley would do if Scott Brown weren’t in the U.S. Senate (I suppose they could compare themselves to Lincoln Chafee). Doherty and Hinckley seem to be banking on the idea that Rhode Islanders actually like Brown thanks to his bi-partisan voting record.

Spencer Dickinson -> Rep. Dickinson still has a real battle on his hands in the general election (he faces Republican James Haldeman), but if he is re-elected, he says he’ll push for a ban on fundraising during the General Assembly session. It’s an idea that is worthy of consideration, but it is opposed by House and Senate leadership.

James Diossa -> The Central Falls Councilman continued his push to become Mayor this week by rolling out an ethics reform agenda that includes creating an ethics commission and restricting campaign contributions from city vendors. In a city that was dealt a black eye by the last administration, Diossa seems like a strong option for turning things around.

Who's Not

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Concerned Rhode Islanders Against Gordon Fox -> It’s laughable to believe that no one close to the Mark Binder campaign had anything to do with the vicious (and brilliant, by the way) radio attack ad against Speaker Gordon Fox. Either way, the fact that the guy behind this group lives in Connecticut is unfortunate. It’s fine to want to take out the Speaker, but no one wants to see someone from out-of-state getting involved in a local race.

Jon Brien -> Rep. Brien may have a real chance to win his write-in campaign against Stephen Casey, but his accusations that Casey, who knocked Brien off in the Democratic primary, violated the Hatch Act were off base.

Curt Schilling -> The former Red Sox ace continues to attempt to shift the blame for the failure of his video game company to state leaders and while it’s true that they should take more responsibility for their actions, the demise of 38 Studios ultimately falls on its owner. His Twitter rants won’t change that.

Raymond Hoyas -> The former Deputy Chief of Staff to Joseph Montalbano pleaded guilty to forgery, larceny and obtaining money under false pretenses this week, but somehow won’t serve a prison sentence (he’ll be on home confinement). See, it’s not just Rhode Island lawmakers who get in trouble; it’s their lackies too.

Legislative Grants -> No one disputes the importance of legislative grants, but the process stinks (notice you didn’t see very many opponents of House and Senate leadership cashing in for their district this year). It’s time for lawmakers to seriously consider Senator Nick Kettle’s proposal to vote on every grant.

Pawtucket -> With an unfunded pension liability approaching $145 million (only 34% is funded), it looks like Pawtucket may be the next city to attempt to freeze COLAs for retirees and reach major concessions. The problem for Mayor Grebien is that elections in his city come every two years and tackling the pension problem could result in a serious opponent in 2014.

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


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