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

Friday, June 08, 2012


Who’s Hot

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Sheldon Whitehouse -> Congress might still be deadlocked, but Senator Whitehouse continues to see his star shine among national Democrats. First there were rumors that he might be tapped to lead the Senate Democrats and now he’s one of the stars at this week’s Netroots Nation held in Providence. He may be viewed as too liberal for some in the Senate, but the fact that he is virtually a lock to win reelection has certainly earned him some national attention.

Abel Collins -> The liberal environmental activist won’t defeat Congressman Langevin this fall, but if he can move the Congressman further to the left, supporters say he’ll have succeeded. Collins has a compelling anti-Wall Street platform that could generate some buzz, but it’s certainly an uphill battle.

Michael Riley -> Speaking of the CD-2 race (because no one really is), the likely Republican nominee has an interesting idea to help cover the cost of entitlements. He’s hoping to use the funds generated from contracts related to fossil fuels found on federal land to pay for Social Security and Medicare. It’s a complicated scheme, but Riley is making a smart political decision by moving away from the more conservative crowd and standing up for entitlement programs.

Chris Blazejewski -> Kudos to Rep. Blazejewski for getting his campaign finance disclosure bill passed through the House this week. The last thing Rhode Island needs is more secrecy in its politics. Unfortunately the bill was watered down to cater to the right to life crowd, which makes no sense whatsoever.

Thomas Palangio -> It sounds as though a candidate has finally emerged for State Rep. John McCauley’s open seat. Palangio, a State House lobbyist and former Rep., is expected to announce his candidacy in the coming weeks.

John Flynn & Charles Levesque -> The two State House insiders have been appointed court magistrates by House and Senate leadership. Flynn has long been a close confidant to House Speaker Gordon Fox and Levesque, a former State Senator who was considering running for office again, received the nod from the Senate.

Angelo Padula -> Kudos to the West Warwick Town Council President for taking the General Assembly to task this week for not including the key components of the Governor’s municipal relief package in the budget. Padula, who isn’t always right about the issues he yells about, is spot-on when he says politics got in the way of what was a strong package from Chafee.

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Who’s Not

House of Representatives -> The House deserves credit for passing what is actually a fairly solid budget, but shame on this group for removing car washes from the sales tax proposal at the last minute. While dog groomers and taxi companies get screwed, the car wash owners were helped because they hired Andrew Annaldo as their $10,000 lobbyist.

38 Studios -> While everyone feels for the employees of Curt Schilling’s video game company, just looking at the expense reports in the 38 Studios bankruptcy makes it difficult to support the former Red Sox star in this whole ordeal. The more you look at this situation, the more it looks like excessive spending is part of the reason the company failed.

Al Verrecchia -> Speaking of the 38 Studios saga, does anyone believe the former Hasbro chief when he says he had no idea of his company’s connection to Schilling? According to those who sat in on those EDC meetings, Verrecchia was one of the top supporters of this disaster of a deal.

M. Teresa Paiva Weed -> The Senate President continues to catch heat for allowing politics to interfere with her relationship with Governor Chafee. Paiva Weed is basically stalling on a number of the Governor’s appointees simply to make a point, which has already led one person (Alison Vareika) to withdraw from her nomination to the EDC.

Tax the Rich Supporters -> It was a strong effort, but Rep. Maria Cimini and her fellow progressives couldn’t quite convince their colleagues to support raising taxes on the wealthiest Rhode Islanders in an election year. However, the idea did pick up some steam and will likely be revisited next year.

National Popular Vote -> The folks at National Popular Vote seem to have an endless amount of money, but for some reason they just can’t convince the General Assembly to support their cause. Maybe they’re hanging out at the wrong restaurants afterhours.

Department of Labor & Training -> Another terrible blow to the state this week with the announcement that DLT will lay off 60-70 employees. At this rate, it could be years before the state’s unemployment rate falls below 10 percent.

Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected].


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