September 15, 2010

Progressive Uprising Ousts Incumbent Legislative Dems

Marc Comtois

Scott McKay's analysis confirms my anecdotal observation that the Progressive/Labor wing of the Democratic party had a successful night.

The only real throw-the-bums out anger came from the Democratic left, not the GOP right. And it was in General Assembly elections. Nine House Democratic incumbents were tossed from office on a day when the progressive wing of the party and organized labor were successful....“I’d say it was a pretty good night for organized labor,’’ said George Nee, AFL_CIO state president.

While House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence was not pleased that he lost some stalwarts, he probably can keep his perch as speaker. The new House Democratic caucus will be more liberal than the last, so Fox may have to shift left a bit, which should not be too difficult for him.

McKay also notes the "paltry" turnout on the GOP side. Well, that shouldn't be a surprise.

My quick analysis: There were very few real races in the GOP and my belief (hope?) is that many--including independents--are keeping their powder dry until the General Election. Overall turnout was very low, which is why the establishment Democrats did well statewide and a small block of motivated Progressive/Labor voters were able to win the ground game in a few targeted races against "DINOs." They know how to play that game well. The key will be, as always, voter motivation. So which will be greater: the traditional GOTV ground game sure to be run by a coalition of Progressives/Labor and knee-jerk Democrats or the anti-incumbent wave comprised of conservative Democrats and highly motivated independents and Republicans?

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Who exactly is "organized labor" via George Nee and Scott McKay taking credit for knocking off?

Defintiely the 2 high-profile "conservative" Dems (Caprio, Gablinkske);

I'd be surprised if it was labor that went after 3 others (M Rice, Fierro, Wasylyk);

Leaving Almeida, Gemma, Shallcross-Smith and Vaudreuil.

Is labor claiming a big night for being the deciding factor in defeating 2 of 9 Democratic incumbents? Or are they taking credit for some of the 4 names on the list immediately above?

Posted by: Andrew at September 15, 2010 11:37 AM

Progressive/Labor coalition, huh? We'll see how long that lasts after they've defaulted on the bonds and figured out that taxes can't go any higher.

Elsewhere in the USA (and, apparently, unbeknownst to most Rhode Islanders), the progressive attack on public sector union benefits has already begun -- for example, check out City Journal's recent article on "Progressives for Pension Reform?"

It is only a matter of time before our local progressives make their move. While George Nee may have put on a brave face last night, he's no fool, and knows full well what lies ahead.

For the same reason, I suspect that never has a man felt better about losing an election than Steve Constantino does this morning.

Posted by: John at September 15, 2010 11:43 AM

Maybe big labor is getting more credit than is due. But they definitely have more to boast about than the RIGOP or the Tea Party. Republican turnout was dismal.

Even though they did not specifically target many races, the tea party and the RIGOP campaigns do not seem to have tapped into or nurtured any anti-incumbant, anti-establishment fever in Rhode Island. If such a phenomenon existed in RI (as it clearly does in the rest of the country) I think we would have seen Raptakis, Kapstein and Gemma victories. If a few more of the power brokers had been thrown out (and a few of the anti-establishment legislators held on), I'd say there would be hope for real change in November.

I personally don't think anything is going to change. In fact, my money still, is on it getting worse.

Posted by: George at September 15, 2010 12:46 PM

I think it's great news. How many of those candidates have Republican or Independent or Moderate candidates running against them. This is Myrth York all over again. This is exactly why I wanted David Segal to win last night. Get the looniest possible left winger in there to face off with a "Northeast Republican", which we know doesn't mean anyone that is Strom Thurmond-like in their conservatism.

Last night may have been only the first shot fired at Fox. Funny how he's already giving an opinion on the status of his seat, when he has an opponent himself in November, never mind not knowing the full composition of the House. If anything, the people proud of throwing out the 9 incumbents should be a little worried about their victories in that if the sentiment among voters is to throw out the bums and get the fresh blood in there, then there could be some real political bloodshed in November. Some of their progressive candidates could get knocked off along with some that they think are supporters who ran unopposed last night.

Why are people like McKay and Fox talking like the election is over? There's still another 7 weeks or so to go and another whole election.

But then again, based on the competency of the RIGOP, one can't be too confident.

Posted by: Patrick at September 15, 2010 12:49 PM

George wrote:
"Republican turnout was dismal."
"the RIGOP campaigns do not seem to have tapped into or nurtured any anti-incumbant, anti-establishment fever in Rhode Island. If such a phenomenon existed in RI (as it clearly does in the rest of the country) I think we would have seen Raptakis, Kapstein and Gemma victories."

I voted with a yellow ballot and what was on there to bring out the Republicans? The big Robitaille vs. Moffitt race? The Russo vs. Rogers? C'mon. There was no reason for Republicans to vote yesterday, that's why the turnout was so low.

As for the races you cite, Raptakis and Kapstein, those are Democratic primaries. Got nothing to do with Republicans. That's the Democrats taking care of their own in a slow election. In November, many more will come out and things could change. Or as I indicated in the comment above, the RIGOP could screw it all up themselves and basically do nothing to help these people who have put their names on the line to challenge the status quo.

Posted by: Patrick at September 15, 2010 12:56 PM

I hardly think last night was a progressive mandate.
I also wonder what Gio had been shooting up when he said Frank Caprio would've lost if he had a contest last night. Think Patrick would've quit if he had a prayer of winning?
Frank's got some reckoning to do, though...turning the full force of his political machine loose in Narragansett failed to help yesterday. For a guy who ran the perfect campaign up until the first time a poll showed him in the lead, the wheels have come off completely. People are now getting a sense Robitaille has a shot - the worst possible scenario for Frank.

Posted by: rhody at September 15, 2010 3:46 PM

"Progressive/Labor coalition, huh? We'll see how long that lasts after they've defaulted on the bonds and figured out that taxes can't go any higher."

Like hell they can't. The sales tax in progressive California is 10.5% and that's right where RI is headed, and how.
In RI it will get worse before it gets...worse still.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at September 15, 2010 8:06 PM

I ran against Jack Savage in District 65 (East Providence). As a complete political newcomer (with a last name everyone messes up) I still garnered 41% of the vote & won 2 of 6 precincts which says to me Rep. Savage does not have the mandate he thinks he has.

The teachers' union sent out a letter encouraging members to vote in the primary & had a serious GOTV effort much like they did in Rep. Gablinske's race.

I received much help from RISC, the Tea Party & RIRA (Rhode Island Republican Assembly). However, the state GOP itself was very toxic to me in my campaign. In fact, one person who identified him/herself as a "party insider" stated to Go Local Prov that I didn't knock on any doors & that my fundraisers were poorly attended; neither of these accusations are true. This insider is a current rep. I can respect others in the GOP wanting to stay neutral, but badmouthing one of your own does nothing to improve the image of the party.

I was not invited to various campaign strategy trainings nor was I privy to any of the tools given to other GOP candidates because I had the gall to challenge a "fellow Republican". The funny thing is, there was no Democrat or Independent running against him so either way the party would've retained the seat. Apparently they didn't want to support the candidate that embodies more of their values than the incumbent.

I am hoping against hope that people come out in force this November to vote in fiscally responsible, conservative people to our General Assembly. I wish nothing but the best to my fellow GOP candidates, but I am also a realist: after all, this is RI.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 15, 2010 9:01 PM

3 of 4 Tea Party endorsed candidates won their primaries. The last, Stephanie, above, lost by a relatively small number of votes. I agree with Marc that the Independents are keeping their powder dry. There was not a whole lot of impetus for Independents or even Republicans to come out for the primary. Only political junkies and progressive/labor voters bothered to make the effort. I'd bet that will not be the case in November. That's when the folks barely holding onto their homes with a spouse out of work and taxes rising faster than their income will vent their frustration with their votes.

Posted by: Madmom at September 16, 2010 10:27 AM


I think we all know Jack Savage is not a Republican. He's a former teacher who always supports the teacher unions.

It usually takes two tries to successfully win an election and 41% on the first time out is big. That's not a whole lot of votes to swap over next time, and it'll be better attended due to the presidential primary. Try again in two years and you'll do much better.

As for the last name, having one that is that different is a good thing. It sure is easy to find on a ballot. It's not like you're a write-in candidate. They just have to find the funny looking name and connect the line.

But as far as that goes, it might be good to put your last name at the top of your web site too. I had no idea what your last name was until I scrolled down and saw the picture of your yard sign.

Good luck!

Posted by: Patrick at September 16, 2010 11:03 AM

Labor sure didn't go after Almeida-they have no beef with him.
No did "progressives" in general.
He was a victim of demographics.
Strangely enough,Almeida was a defender of "immigrant rights" to the max.It would be way ironic if he was defeated by illegal aliens(or even legal residents) voting for Medina.Methinks that could be the case.Too bad he didn't support the concept of Voter ID.

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 17, 2010 4:59 PM
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