The 2017 Power List — Politics

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


View Larger +

Clockwise from top left: Romano, Cromwell, Dufault and Gabarra

In Rhode Island, politics is the major league sport. The 2017 Power List of Politics is de facto an all-star team.

These are the people that make the elected look good -- if they are doing their job. They play the game of politics full speed and for keeps. The list is comprised of those that have had multiple successes and a few defeats.

The most powerful in Rhode Island influence, direct, and even manipulate the state’s government and economy. They are the experts and tacticians that make it happen.

SLIDES: See the Most Powerful List for 2017 BELOW

Those in this group often sacrifice for their boss or their causes. And, some on this list play the game on the edge. 

Today’s Power List looks at the politicos who impact Rhode Island’s government.

The 2017 list only includes one holdover from the 2016 list. That one member might be able to make the claim he deserves to be on the list over the past two to three decades.

This list was developed with the input of journalists, elected officials, business influencers, top attorneys, leaders in philanthropy — those who contributed to the list are, de facto, powerful in their own right.


Related Slideshow: The 2017 Power List — Politics

View Larger +
Prev Next


Jacob Bissaillon 

The affable top-senate staffer has had just about every office in state and city government — or at least it seems that way.

Let’s see, he was Chief of Staff to the President of the Providence City Council, he was a top communications staffer to the House Leadership, and now a top Senate staffer.

And, he earned a law degree in his spare time and passed the bar.

View Larger +
Prev Next


Amy Gabarra

If the lyrics of Cabaret are true, “Money makes the world go around,” then Amy Gabarra plays the lead.

For the better part of a decade, she has been the premier fundraiser in Rhode Island working for many of the state’s leading Democrats. Literally, Gabarra has raised millions.

Republicans can complain about all the advantages Democrats have in Rhode Island. Maybe the GOP would be competitive with an Amy Gabarra or two.

View Larger +
Prev Next


Brett Smiley

Chief of Staff and owner of multiple political consulting firms. Smiley is driving the Governor’s agenda, controls a number of political firms, and keeps an eye on the Mayor’s seat in Providence.

He has begun to take a more active role in controlling and staffing the Governor’s office. At least one of his political consulting firm’s staffers has been added to Raimondo’s staff.

View Larger +
Prev Next


John Della Volpe

One of the top pollsters in America — Della Volpe of Harvard Kennedy’s Institute of Politics is now polling in Rhode Island. 

His firm has been tapped by GoLocal to provide ongoing public polling throughout the 2018 election cycle.

It is a game changer - real numbers for the public.

He appears on "Morning Joe" and "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah to name a few of his regular national appearances. 

View Larger +
Prev Next


Brad Dufault

When the unions need a communications strategy, Brad Dufault leads the list. 

He led the effort to beat back Question 3/Constitutional Convention in the 2016 election. Now, he is leading the communications strategy with his father Guy Dufault to push the passage of the financial subsidies for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Dufault was one of the key players in pushing John DePetro out of WPRO AM in 2016.

View Larger +
Prev Next


Joseph Molina Flynn

Attorney Joseph Molina Flynn is the new President of the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee. The growing influence in Latinos in RI politics is becoming a more factor in the electoral game.

Since its foundation, it has "influenced, endorsed, and mobilized Latino voters and candidates sensitive to their issues in Rhode Island." 

It is a non-partisan organization founded in 1998. From that time RILPAC has successfully worked to identify, communicate and lobby for issues impacting the Latino Community. In the 2018 election, Latino voters could be the game changer in key Democratic primaries and in the general.

View Larger +
Prev Next


Cara Cromwell

Want to get a message to Governor Gina Raimondo? The most efficient way may be through Cromwell. She ran the very successful 2017 National Governors Association meeting.

She ran GOP Congressional candidate John Loughlin's 2010 race against David Cicilline. Cicilline only won 50% to Loughlin's 44%.

She claims such wins as "during the 2014 cycle Ms. Cromwell managed Yes on 5, a successful bond referendum in support of arts facilities in Rhode Island and worked on the communications team for Charlie Baker’s winning campaign for governor of Massachusetts. After the election, Ms. Cromwell served as transition spokesperson for Governor-elect Gina M. Raimondo in Rhode Island."

View Larger +
Prev Next


Jon Romano

He has a deep experience in policy and politics. He worked in Rhode Island more than a decade ago and then worked his way around the political Democratic sphere. 

Previous to coming to Rhode Island in early 2017, he was a senior advisor to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in the Barack Obama administration.

Now, he is the inside policy guy in the Raimondo office, and deeply involved with crafting RI's Promise - the CCRI free tuition program.

He is former Providence Mayor and developer Joseph Paolino's son-in-law. Romano can play the game at all levels in RI and D.C.

View Larger +
Prev Next


Gayle Corrigan

The East Greenwich Town manager is in the eye of the fiscal storm in sleepy East Greenwich — it now looks like a big city 

She has been a lightning rod wherever she has been. In the private sector, she was a top executive at barge builder SENESCO.

Then, served as Chief of Staff in the City of Central Falls during the receivership. After, the tumultuous term she was Deputy Director of RI Housing and now in her battling role in East Greenwich.

View Larger +
Prev Next


Leo Skenyon

Old School. He is the only returning member of the 2016 Power List.

Skenyon is a political operative, make no mistake about it, and he is the one who helped craft the 2016 Nick Mattiello re-election.

Skenyon is the former Chief of Staff to then-Senate Majority Leader Jack Revens in the 1980s, and then a former top aide to Governor Bruce Sundlun and U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell. 

Will Skenyon be able to craft another win in 2018?


Enjoy this post? Share it with others.


Sign Up for the Daily Eblast

I want to follow on Twitter

I want to Like on Facebook

Delivered Free Every
Day to Your Inbox