— RI Governor '10 —

November 15, 2010

"I campaigned on it...I can't go back on a campaign pledge."

Marc Comtois

So says our governor-elect when talking about his pledge to revoke the E-verify Executive order. Hey, he's honest, right? I guess that means we can be sure that a 1% sales tax increase is coming. Yippee.

Scions United

Marc Comtois

As has been reported (I saw it tweeted first by Ian Donnis), governor-elect Chafee has tabbed erstwhile liberal Democrat political insider--lobbyist, Chairman of the Board of NARAL--Richard Licht (h/t Ted Nesi for the link to Licht's bio) to head up the Department of Administration. The liberalness isn't a surprise, but lest we forget, there is a history between the Licht and Chafee families. As ProJo 7to7 reminds us:

Licht was lieutenant governor from 1984 to 1988, when he ran for Senate in 1988 against Chafee's father, John Chafee. He lost that year and ran again in 2000, losing in the Democratic primary. Lincoln Chafee, who had been appointed to fill his father's seat upon his death in 1999, won that year.

Licht's uncle, Frank Licht, unseated Chafee's father from the governor's office in 1968.

Chafee and his staff are characterizing this as "bipartisanship" because of the Democrat/Independent/Republican mashup. Yeah, right. It really isn't bipartisan when the scion of a long-time political family brings in a fellow scion of a long-time political family to help him run things. The only real differences Chafee and Licht were their party and some nuance and emphasis. Obviously, there was a lot they agreed upon over cocktails at the club.

November 5, 2010

Wherefore All the Debates

Justin Katz

Ed Fitzpatrick devoted a column, the other day, to the profusion of gubernatorial debates, this election cycle:

Of course, the candidates didn't participate in all these events simply out of the goodness of their hearts. This was an open seat, so there was no incumbent telling us he or she had too many important things to do instead. And the race was tourniquet tight, making candidates reluctant to blow off an event and give their opponents a chance to criticize them or sway a crowd in their absence.

Looking ahead, we shouldn't expect so many debates in the next governor's race. But we should appreciate what we had this year.

Fitzpatrick doesn't go any more deeply than that into the question of why there were so many debates, but it's an interesting angle that could affect election cycles to come. Myself, I credit the Rhode Island Voter Coalition, which began hosting debates early and set the precedent that an organization didn't have to be a mainstream media outlet or major political player, like the unions, to be able to summon the candidates.

Moving a step farther, I'd categorize the RIVC as an outgrowth of last summer's Tea Parties and healthcare town halls. That's where the shocking notion became solidified that politicians should face their constituents in candid forums. And if I may be so bold, Anchor Rising played a role in our coverage of those prior events, including online video posted within a day or two, as well as in helping to establish the RIVC debates in the same manner.

Unfortunately, life twisted, for me, in a direction that precluded my continuing the practice. Whether it can be renewed depends entirely on the willingness of readers to support the site as a more substantial means of employment.

November 2, 2010

Mixed Metaphor Alert: Just Covering the Bases or Throwing a Hail Mary?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Should anything be read into the fact that the Caprio campaign is apparently sending out turn-out-the vote e-mails as of abut 6:19 this evening?

November 1, 2010

Truth in Advertising? Petty (Non)Vandalism? Or a Wholesale Swap Out?

Monique Chartier


One of many edited "Chafee" signs placed in the public right of way along Route 295 North and elsewhere. Check out the disclaimer at the bottom.

The Basic Structure of a Voting Plan

Justin Katz

Governance is never as straightforward in practice as it is in theory, but Republican gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille provides the basic foundation for a voting strategy:

I will veto any new tax increase that comes to my desk and work vigorously to empower the entrepreneurs who will lead our economy back and position Rhode Island for the 21st Century.

Together, we can reform a broken and bloated government that threatens our prosperity and is creating a lifestyle of dependency. Without restraint and without reform, the burden on Rhode Island’s economy and working families will drive small businesses and taxpayers to seek refuge in other states, and the only employer left will be the government. As a Rhode Island native, this is unacceptable to me.

The veto and the bully pulpit are ultimately the two tools left the governor, by Rhode Island's constitutional schema. Without enough allies in the General Assembly to sustain his veto, though, the governor lacks that critical tool, so we must elect state senators and representatives who will return that balance to the State House.

And we must elect representatives farther down the ticket — at the municipal level — who will have the fortitude not to merely transfer tax increases from the state level to the local level. Contrary to popular rhetoric, the fact that the state reduces aid to the cities and towns does not mean that it is raising property taxes. There are plenty of strategies that town hall can pursue without driving you out of your home.

This voting principle also applies up the ladder. We must have, in Washington, elected officials who will neither impose new burdens on states and municipalities nor fly to the rescue so as to prevent difficult decisions from having to be made.

That is how we pull our nation back from the brink and begin rebuilding its stature by, first of all, restoring confidence in its structure.

October 31, 2010

On Second Thought - Backing Away from the "Shove" Five Days Later

Monique Chartier

We all remember what gov candidate Frank Caprio said to John Depetro Monday morning on WPRO.

Tuesday, he defiantly told Meredith Vieira and a national television audience watching the Today Show

I stand by my comment.

Now, however, NECN is reporting that the Dem candidate issued the following statement yesterday.

I have had a lot of time to reflect on my words and I understand the criticisms. I respect President Obama's decision not to get involved in the governor's race. The way the White House announced that there would be no endorsement caught me by surprise. I wish I had chosen different language, but now the focus has to be on what is important to Rhode Islanders.

It's difficult not to fast forward a year, two or even five years and project this determinism-turned-rethink onto other decisions taken by "Governor Caprio".

I wish I had chosen a different judicial nominee.

I wish I had worked harder to lift costly city and town mandates.

I wish I had signed that pension reform bill.

I wish I had not signed that bill raising the corporate income tax. But now the focus needs to be on bringing businesses and jobs to Rhode Island.

Minimally, "what is important to Rhode Islanders" is a governor who will do his reflecting before taking action, even if ... no, especially if that action is a calculated, manipulative stunt.

October 29, 2010

Some Final Gubernatorial Campaign Wonkery

Carroll Andrew Morse

In recent debates, Republican Gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille has drawn criticism from other gubernatorial candidates for his answer on how he would decide where to cut the state budget, i.e. by asking for 5%, 10% and 15% reduction options from each department. But what Robitaille is describing is a straightforward and reasonable method for dealing with the unglamorous side of executive governance.

If you go to this page describing the staffing of the State of Rhode Island's Budget Office, you will see a bunch of positions described in this form...

Roger Williams (401-222-xxxx)
Budget Analyst I
Department Of Attorney General
Department Of Environmental Management
Department Of Public Safety
Department Of Children, Youth, And Families
Rhode Island Council On The Arts
Each budget analyst is responsible for working directly with the relevant state department heads to develop a budget recommendation for the list of departments under his or her name.

What Robitaille is saying he will do is instruct the analysts (via the State's Budget Director, who reports directly to the Governor) to develop a set of options involving 5%, 10%, and 15% cuts, for the departments they are responsible for. Then, after options for each department have been created, the Governor, the Budget Director and the analysts will sit down to choose from and adjust the options, to develop the total budget for the state.

Independent Gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee, for one, does not regard the 5/10/15 plan as a substantive one, I suspect, because he is likely to utilize a different budgeting process -- just give the unions and his other political allies whatever they want.

RI Reformers Split on Governor

Marc Comtois

RISC is buying what Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio is selling and have endorsed him for Governor over Republican John Robitaille. Their reasoning:

RISC wants to acknowledge that Republican John Robitaille, who is a friend and member of RISC has run a very competent and credible campaign- -and yes, as of this writing- -is running very strong in the polls. It is very difficult for this organization to have to side with one candidate more than another when several viewpoints that reflect the RISC position are embraced by both. In the final analysis however, Caprio brings two crucial distinctions that we believe give him the ultimate advantage. He has already performed well in office, recognized for innovations and smart management skills as Treasurer which bode well for how he would function as Governor. Finally, RISC recognizes the reality of governing in this state may dictate that a centrist Democrat with fiscal conservative credentials may have the best chance of enacting the very difficult reforms needed which will only be achieved by a Governor who can build consensus.

Bringing the state back to a thriving, growing, forward-looking position we all want, will take a bold, very ambitious, and yes, imperfect leader who we believe not only has the right plan for the taxpayer- -but can actually turn it into reality. We believe that leader is Democrat Frank Caprio.

The Rhode Island Tea Party is not buying what Caprio is selling and are supporting Robitaille. And they think RISC is playing "insider politics."
The RI Tea Party believes that RISC has betrayed its own message to RI. Their endorsement smacks of the same old compromised insider politics.

"I am stunned by RISC's lack of conviction", states Colleen Conley, President of the RI Tea Party. "Frank Caprio has voted to raise taxes as a state legislator numerous times. He boasts a plethora of Union endorsements. That just strengthens the unions ability to write their own rules of the game, to hire their own bosses. Caprio's voting record clearly shows he has supported several tax increases and even supported efforts to organize day care workers in our state. Just more burden on the taxpayers."

Reform groups in RI are sticking together in support of John Robitaille - the only candidate who has the conviction and understanding to represent all of the hard-working taxpayers in RI. He understands that government does not create jobs. He understands that taxing our way out of debt is a failed policy. He understands that without a financially healthy private-sector there will be no revenue to pay for public-sector services.

Until now, to my knowledge, the growing rift between RISC and the RITP (and other groups) was an outgrowth of organizational and personal disputes at the top of each organization. I suppose it was only a matter of time before these disagreements were manifested in the public policy arena. The fact is, both groups agree on most policy positions and have mostly endorsed the same candidates. Yet, I suspect this single, high-profile disagreement will serve to define the relationships on the right-side of RI's reform community for years to come. Personally, I think the RISC leadership has made a big mistake: they put themselves on an island amongst the other reform groups and may have stranded themselves for good.

October 28, 2010

Caprio Drops to Third in Latest Poll

Carroll Andrew Morse

This is the latest poll result in the Governor's race, according to WJAR-TV's (NBC 10) latest poll released last night...

The poll put independent Lincoln Chafee in the lead with 35 percent of the vote, followed by Republican John Robitaille with 28 percent and Caprio with 25 percent. The margin of error leaves Robitaille and Caprio in a statistical tie. Moderate Party candidate Ken Block had 2 percent. Ten percent said they were undecided.

October 26, 2010

Liveblogging the Governor's Debate

Carroll Andrew Morse

[7:52] I'm skipping closing statements, because the candidates are talking faster than I can type.

[7:51] Chafee: We had a surplus when I entered the Senate and I voted against the Iraq war. Stimulus increased deficit too much.

[7:50] Caprio: Stimulus was not successful.

[7:50] Block: RI didn't use money to do things that would really help new businesses.

[7:49] White: Was the stimulus a success? Robitaille: Too many strings, especially maintenance of effort provisions. More should have gone to small business.

[7:48] Fitz to Robitaille: Haven't named any specific mistakes by Don Carcieri: Robitaille: Carcieri erred in endorsing Linc Chafee over Steve Laffey.

[7:47] Block: Sales tax impacts necessities.

[7:46] Fitz to Chafee: Isn't the sales tax regressive? Chafee: You have control over how much you spend, therefore how much sales tax you pay, unlike property tax.

[7:45] Fitzpatick to Caprio: Did Caprio talk to anyone about running as a Republican. Caprio: I just had lunch with Ken McKay.

[7:44] Block: D, but will stay after school to help them out. Passing massive amounts of legislation is bad practice.

[7:43] Robitaille: F, grown government, raised taxes, failed to fund pensions, driven business out of the state.

[7:43] Chafee: No preconceived notions on past performance. Achorn pushes. Chafee refuses to answer, because he has to work with them.

[7:42] Caprio: C, pension reform and held the line on taxes. Could do better.

[7:41] Achorn: Grade the General Aseembly

[7:40] Caprio: We need to listen to rank-and-file membership, instead of leadership that has its own agenda.

[7:39] Block: We need smart union policy, treat them as a partner and not an adversary.

[7:38] Chafee: My record in Warwick proves I wan't too close to the unions.

[7:37] Question to Chafee: Projo editorial suggests you are too close to the state's unions.

[7:36] Robitaille: Would cut social service programs first.

[7:34] Chafee: Cutting aid to cities and towns forces property tax to increase. Says he would raise sales tax. He would manage the state better.

[7:34] Caprio: Will straighten out the state operations budget.

[7:33] Block: Cost savings in social service spending. Waste and fraud may be enough to close the budget gap.

[7:32] Fitzpatick: Would major state budget area would you cut first?

[7:31] Caprio: 1) Implement small business fund 2) fix the DMV.

[7:31] Block: Give the state's IT dept. 30 days to get dead people off welfare rolls. (I missed the 2nd one).

[7:30] Robitialle: First one is cut spending. Second one is cut spending. Require state dept. heads to submit 3 plans, a 15% cut, a 10% cut, and a 5% cut.

[7:29] Chafee: 1) Repeal E-verify 2) Tackle the budget

[7:29] Achorn: What are first 2 things you would do as governor?

[7:28] Robitaille: Behavior of other candidates will scare other businesses from coming to RI.

[7:28] Caprio: If the deal is not closed soon after he is elected, he will have it reviewed.

[7:26] Block: Outrageous to sue a volunteer board.

[7:25] Chafee: Yes, he will fight to get the $75 million back.

[7:24] Tim White to Chafee: Do you continue to support suing the EDC over the 38 studios deal?

[7:23] Caprio back to Block: I have plans to help businesses of different sizes, that have been praised by many respectable sources.

[7:22] Block: Describes the experience of the risk starting a small business. Tells Chafee it can't be done passively. Tells Caprio his plan is flawed beacuse of some its business-size requirements.

[7:21] Robitaille: Government doesn't creat job, the private sector does. We need to create a business friendly environment in RI, and we're not. Streamline permitting and regulations.

[7:20] Caprio: Get access to capital out there for small businesses.

[7:19] Chafee: Invest in infrastructure and education.

[7:19] Good question from Edward Fitzpatrick to the candidates: How do you actually create a job? From the dawn of time

[7:18] Caprio: The pension mess is a 60-year legacy. Goes into detail about his fiscal management.

[7:17] Robitaille: Caprio voted for multiple tax increases, failed to adequately manage the pension fund for state employees.

[7:16] Chafee doesn't answer question "specifically", says he has more experience than the other 3.

[7:16] Chafee rebuts: The people of Warwick showed their approval by reelecting me.

[7:15] Caprio criticizes Chafee's property tax increases and school spending levels in Warwick

[7:14] Caprio makes a point of saying he likes Block, and is not

[7:14] Block cricizes Caprio's record as Treasurer.

[7:14] Ed Achorn asks a goofy question about is there any specific thing about one of your opponents that troubles you.

[7:13] Block: "Absolute knucklehead". This is a distraction from really fixing our problems.

[7:12] Caprio: I'll behave like I want to behave.

[7:11] Robitaille: "Shove it" was inappropriate, shows Caprio lacks the appropriate temperament.

[7:10] Chafee empahasizes "there's been no endorsement" in response to a question about the President's popularity.

[7:09] Chafee: Caprio had seemed excited about the endorsement, before the non-endorsement occurred.

[7:09] White asks Chafee for a reaction.

[7:09] Caprio: I reacted in a human way, after learning about the non-endoresment through the news.

[7:08] White: Was it calculated?

[7:08] Caprio: It was a political answer to a political situation.

[7:07] Tim White asks Caprio if "shove it" was appropriate...

[7:03] Interesting contrast. Robitaille and Caprio do biographical intros. Chafee goes right to discussing infrastructure spending that has recenly occurred. Block goes right after the other candidates.

[7:00] Yes, it is on Channel 12. Mike Montecalvo is doing the intro.

[6:59] Of course, I haven't actually checked tonight's TV listings, so I'm really hoping the debate comes up next on Channel 12, after having typed that first line.

[6:57] If there's an RI Gubernatorial debate that's worth liveblogging in this election cycle, this will be the one...

October 25, 2010

Playing the "Shove It" Card

Justin Katz

Reporting on Democrat gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio's multiple statements that President Obama can "take his endorsement and shove it," WPRI blogger Ted Nesi has broken new RI blogger ground by receiving a Drudge link. Personally, I find the whole thing predictable and too well staged.

Anybody who's been reading Anchor Rising — and who understands that Caprio isn't one for intemperate spontaneity — should see this as a calculated move to shore up the right-of-center voters whom Caprio courted thoroughly and effectively right up to the Democrat primary. If he can "shove" Obama into the Linc Chafee camp, moderates and Republicans who like the Chafee name but don't realize what his positions entail will reconsider. That could break the odd coalition of far-left progressives and old-guard Republicans, with Caprio positioned to reap the rewards, rather than Republican John Robitaille.

He just has to hope that he can persuade his moderate and establishment Democrat voters that he's not signaling a rejection of partisan ideals, and the recent Bill Clinton visit surely provided plenty of cover in that regard.

That's why the politics of this election are dull even where they attract national attention: The candidates are playing checkers, not chess.

October 22, 2010

Robitaille Rising?

Marc Comtois

Scott McKay's was the first report I saw about the Republican Governor's pumping a few hundred thousand dollars into the RI Governor's race on behalf of John Robitaille.

Washington political sources who are in the advertising buying side of political consulting say the RGA is preparing a major last-minute push on behalf of Robitaille. Which must mean they are seeing internal poll numbers that show their candidate with a fighting chance to pull off an upset over independent Lincoln Chafee and Democrat Frank Caprio, the two candidates who have been leading in the public opinion surveys that have been reported in Rhode Island’s media.

In the multi-candidate scrum that is the 2010 RI gubernatorial campaign, a candidate with as little as 35 percent could end up the victor.

McKay's instincts seem right as I heard Dan Yorke read some sort of press release citing a just-completed RGA National Republican Congressional Committee poll (which I can't find anywhere online--but the ProJo refers to it) showing Robitaille tied with Caprio at 28% and Chafee at 27%. Then there is the news that now Caprio is releasing ads attacking Robitaille and it makes one wonder if there is an increasing wind behind Robitaille's sails.

October 19, 2010

A Governor for Dictatorial Times

Justin Katz

Lincoln Chafee's time as Warwick mayor ended before I'd taken much of an interest in Rhode Island politics, so I'd never had occasion to learn about his much touted resolution of a teacher dispute and strike in the city. The details in a recent PolitiFact article suggest that he might be more than comfortable with a role of governor in a time of state centralization of power:

In spring 1994, after talks broke down and the state mediator resigned in frustration, Chafee stepped in and cut a deal with the teachers, essentially bypassing the School Committee.

Under the agreement, backed by eight of the nine members of the Democrat-controlled City Council, base pay for a top-step teacher went from $39,762 during the 1990-1991 school year to $49,371 for 1996-'97, the final year of the pact. That's a 24.2-percent hike. The deal also included an extra 2.5 percent that teachers who were working during the 1992-'93 school year are entitled to receive when they retire or resign, a bonus that continues to be paid as teachers leave.

The question that the article addresses — leading to a "half true" rating for Chafee's Democrat opponent for governor, Frank Caprio — is whether Chafee can really be faulted for giving the teachers such a huge raise. The context that writer Eugene Emery finds compelling in Chafee's favor is that the total amount can be seen as spreading out over the course of the six years that the dispute continued.

Only in public sector labor disputes is it considered natural for wage increases to be counted over years of negotiation. Most workers who receive raises after long stretches of stasis don't see them as distributed across the years from one increase to another. Indeed, that mentality — the inevitability of retroactive pay — surely underlies the union's willingness to drag the process out for so long... until it could find some official party to acquiesce and make its members whole.

In this case, it appears that the voters of Warwick were not interested in replacing their school committee with representatives who would acquiesce to the union, and they had no reason to suspect that their votes for mayor would achieve the same result.

October 18, 2010

Not Moderate; Far Left

Justin Katz

Long-time readers will know that I'm a skeptic of "moderates," although I've actually been surprised at just how liberal Moderate Party founder and gubernatorial candidate Ken Block actually is. Here's the latest indication:

[Republican John] Robitaille said that, if elected, he would seek to have the attorney general challenge the legality of the federal law, calling it unconstitutional because of its requirement that citizens purchase coverage.

"I'm very much against that," responded Kenneth J. Block, Moderate Party candidate for governor. "We want everyone in this state to have health insurance." He said Robitaille's stance is "one of ideology, and has nothing to do with the provision of health care."

At least as of April, a majority of Rhode Islanders actually supported repealing Obamacare. How is it "moderate" to be "very much against" a majority? More important, though, is Block's elision of wanting everyone to have health insurance and believing that strong government control is the answer.

Block is smarter and more independent than the typical left-wing Democrat, but his worldviews are entirely those of the ruling class, and his governing philosophy appears to be technocratic. In other words, it is built on the principle that he and his fellow go-getters know better how our society should be ordered, and our lives lived, than the rest of us.

October 15, 2010

In Favor of a Split Government

Justin Katz

Portsmouth historian Mary Beth Klee is right that Rhode Island can't afford to put the state government entirely in the hands of the Democrat Party, whether that means a Governor Caprio or a Governor Chafee, who is ideologically sympathetic to the worst, most ill-suited-to-lead segments of the Democrat Party. In making her case, she does remind readers that, for all of his inexplicable actions over the past year, Governor Carcieri has done some good for the state:

Rhode Island's tax burden has dropped from fourth heaviest in the nation to tenth. (Still a far cry from nearby New Hampshire's 50th in the nation or Massachusetts, at 24th.) The governor has worked to streamline state government and pass balanced budgets without increasing citizen tax burdens.

My personal favorite: His administration made it possible to renew a driver's license or vehicle registration quickly at the AAA instead of waiting endless hours at the hopelessly inefficient Division of Motor Vehicles. The governor also called for Rhode Island's state and municipal workers to sacrifice with the rest of us, and take salary cuts, as most employees in the private sector have these past two years. (They did not.)

The question that arises for Republicans and conservatives who would vote for Frank Caprio as a means of blocking Lincoln Chafee is whether they believe that, once in office, Caprio would pull his entire party toward him — including the politically dominant General Assembly — or his party would pull him toward it. Those of us who would find him preferable to both of those options should realize that Republican John Robitaille is not out of this race.

October 11, 2010

The Give Me Mine Vote

Justin Katz

It's pretty clear, from a recent Brown University poll that about one-fifth of the electorate in Rhode Island are in the die-hard public sector camp:

On the other hand, a large percentage — 73.3 percent — opposed raising the state sales tax, while 18.9 percent supported the idea. And 74.7 percent opposed raising the state income tax, while 19.3 percent supported the idea.

When asked about measures that would affect state employees, 46.6 percent supported unpaid furlough days, while 38.4 percent opposed the idea, and 57.9 percent supported a defined-contribution pension plan for new state employees, while 21.1 percent opposed the idea.

Basically, 20% of survey respondents want higher taxes to support the deals currently offered to public-sector employees. I can't say, of course, how much overlap there is between wanting to increase the sales tax and wanting to increase the income tax, but I'd wager that it's significant — constituting, overall, a statement of "whatever it takes." That's a significant portion — especially given its greater likelihood actually to vote and to become active before election day — but it's not overwhelming.

The route to countering that bloc will be to isolate their issues in the face of a single candidate — who, incidentally, has made it abundantly clear that he's their guy:

... during and after the Marriott Hotel lunch, [Lincoln] Chafee insisted that [Frank] Caprio’s $100 million in promised [pension] savings are illusory, because his plan "won't standup to legal scrutiny."

"It's hard to believe that a court would agree that somebody that has been paying into a certain pension fund for 30 years, all of a sudden has a new pension plan. It's hard to believe a court, beyond the fairness issue, would say that is legal," Chafee said.

Determining, beforehand, that the union's ever-present threat of expensive litigation will prove indomitable is a classic ploy of union-bought candidates for office. It simply is not difficult to believe that an objective judge would allow the state to change the terms of an insupportable pension system, at least for investments not yet made. In other words, the fact that employees have been paying into a system does not mean that they have a legal right to see that system perpetuated. Some aren't yet vested, which means that they don't even have a claim to the fruits of their investments thus far, and others can be told that different rules will apply to payments made from this moment forward.

The more extreme measure — which may yet prove necessary — would be to transfer the vested payments into a defined-contribution plan that is financially comparable, but with better terms for the state. But I don't think any candidates have gone that far.

October 8, 2010

I'll Do As I Say, Not as I Did: The Gap Between Frank Caprio's Campaign Words and His Official Actions

Monique Chartier

With apologies for merely transferring something whole cloth (especially in sight of Andrew's extensive work), an interesting press release yesterday from the RIGOP highlights the contrast between Frank Caprio on the campaign trail and Frank Caprio in action at the General Assembly.

During last night’s televised gubernatorial debate, Democrat Frank Caprio struggled while trying to reconcile his campaign rhetoric with his 17-year record in the State’s General Assembly. Making sweeping statements and promises that were wholly inconsistent with his past actions, Caprio faced criticism from his rival candidates and had difficulty answering basic questions from WPRI reporter Tim White.

FRANK CAPRIO: “You don’t need to raise taxes. People are hurting today. People don’t have the extra money to buy their milk, their groceries, their prescription drugs and their clothing.” (WPRI debate, 10/6/10, www.wpri.com)

FACT: Caprio voted to increase income taxes, corporate taxes, sales taxes, utility taxes, gasoline taxes, and cigarette taxes. He even sponsored legislation to create a commuter tax and a tax on water. (House Journal 2/14/91, Projo 2/15/91, 6/16/91) (House Journal 2/14/91, Projo 2/15/91, 6/16/91) (House Journal 2/14/91, Projo 2/15/91, 6/16/91) (House Journal 91-7151) (98-s2608)

FRANK CAPRIO: “We need a plan that works for Rhode Island, eliminating those taxes that will keep people who create jobs and create wealth here in Rhode Island...Small businesses are being strangled by the taxation that’s hitting them.” (WPRI debate, 10/6/10, www.wpri.com)

FACT: Caprio voted for a 20% increase to the state income tax, and an 11% increase to corporate taxes. (House Journal 2/14/91, ProJo 2/15/91, 6/16/91, House Journal 2/14/91, ProJo 2/15/91, 6/16/91)

FRANK CAPRIO: “We have to put taxes in line with what’s going on around us, and have a plan to continue to reduce those taxes.” (WPRI debate, 10/6/10, www.wpri.com)

FACT: Caprio voted to keep the 7 percent sales tax rate, which was supposed to be temporary. (House Journal 2/14/91, ProJo 2/15/91, 6/16/91)

FRANK CAPRIO: “If you want to hold the line on spending and get this economy moving, vote for Frank Caprio.” (WPRI debate, 10/6/10, www.wpri.com)

FACT: Caprio has been a Rhode Island career politician for almost two decades and consistently voted to increase state spending from $1.5 billion in 1991 to almost $6.6 billion in 2006 - a 340% increase.

October 6, 2010

Caprio is Both For and Against Binding Arbitration (Depending Upon the Audience)

Monique Chartier

Randal Edgar reports in yesterday's Providence Journal. Kudos to Ken Block for picking up on this.

In an interview last month with the head of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees, gubernatorial candidate Frank T. Caprio responded with a quick “no, I do not” when asked if he favors binding arbitration to resolve teacher contract disputes.

Yet, when asked recently by the largest state employees union if he favors the practice for municipal and state employees, the Democratic candidate said yes.

Why did he answer differently to different audiences?

I've read it three times and I still don't get the explanation:

The difference, said Caprio spokesman Nick Hemond, comes down to who is doing the negotiating. In the case of municipal contracts, the people negotiating on behalf of taxpayers would be the mayor or manager and the city or town council, who have ultimate responsibility for the entire municipal budget and the local tax rate. In the case of teacher contracts, the people negotiating on behalf of taxpayers — school superintendent and the school committee — do not have that control.

“It’s the mayor and the council who are going to have to deal with the results,” Hemond said. “If they can’t come to an agreement, they’re the party that can’t come to an agreement.”

An unsuccessful struggle to pierce such opaqueness inexorably drives one back to a more obvious though less flattering explanation:

I'm running for office and trying to secure as many votes as possible by telling constituencies what they want to hear. So I told cities and towns that I'm against binding arbitration because they oppose it and I told a public labor union that I'm for binding arbitration because public labor unions support it.

October 5, 2010

Whom the Candidates Represent

Justin Katz

An article about the RI gubernatorial candidates' appearance before the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns crystallizes — for those people who still, astonishingly, do not see — that Lincoln Chafee is little more than the candidate of the public-sector unions. On whether he'd pledge not to reduce state aid to municipalities:

Independent Lincoln D. Chafee went at the issue a different way, citing his plan to raise additional money through the sales tax

Regarding whether municipal leaders ought to have more authority over school finances:

... Chafee said school committees are already accountable to the people who elect them. Instead, he said he would work with other governors to secure more federal funding to help cover special-education costs.

On whether teachers' unions should have recourse to binding arbitration, Chafee's answer was, "yes." For Chafee, governing Rhode Island would be all about more money for union-funding activities and union-supporting policies.

The article also makes clear that those pragmatists who claim that Democrat Frank Caprio would be preferable by far to Chafee clearly make a valid point. I fear, however, that Caprio's governance would be all too familiar. Note, for example, his willingness to pledge to make no cuts to municipalities. That's a standard political promise to the people who happen to be in the room, and when push comes to shove, it will have either to be broken or to be allowed to supersede other impressions that he's worked to foster among the electorate, like a preference for not raising state taxes.

The only candidate who didn't make that pledge, by the way, was Republican John Robitaille, who cited his inability to see into the future.

October 1, 2010

RE: The Unthrilling Election

Marc Comtois

On Matt Allen's show earlier this week, Justin did a good job of explaining why there doesn't seem to be any excitement surrounding this year's RI Governor race. Basically, Democrats are getting hammered across the rest of the nation and the energy is on the side of the Tea Party/GOPers, which leaves our oh-so-Democratic state out of the national conversation and our heavily Democratic electorate feeling justifiably uninispired.

In a state where "I know a guy" is viewed as a legitimate career path, charges of cronyism from one political scion--liberal independent Linc Chafee--against another--Democrat Frank Caprio--may seem downright befuddling. And bringing the family into the mix? "Don't dese guys know dat everyone wants a good state job and dat youse should leave da family outta it?" Sheesh. Neither of these guys get it! It's enough to make you wanna stay home on election day.

September 30, 2010

The Civics Interview with John Robitaille: "Is it by design or by accident that government has been growing as if on autopilot?"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Question 4 to Republican Party Gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille: The combined state and municipal budgets for Rhode Island have grown steadily (adjusted for inflation) over the past 10 years, a period of time which includes September 11, 2001 and its immediate aftermath, the end-of-the-financial world as we knew it in 2008, and the relative lull (at least domestically) in between. Is it by design or by accident that government has been growing as if on autopilot -- or would you disagree with that characterization entirely?

I believe that government is growing. Government is growing at the Federal level and the state level in scary proportions… Audio: 56 sec

…President Bush was a Republican, but he spent like a drunken sailor. President Obama is trying to expand government at a rate unheard of historically. He passed a healthcare bill that includes the hiring of hundreds of new IRS agents. It is scary to see where that’s going… Audio: 54 sec

It is interesting though. When you look at the size of Rhode Island government, on a state level we have close to 3,000 fewer employees, but the budget has gone up…We have about 10 billion dollars we’re spending for a state with about a million people as small as we are, way too much. Rhode Island does not have a revenue problem. Rhode Island has a spending problem… Audio: 1m 10 sec

We’ve created this destructive co-dependency on government with people who are lower-middle class or poor people, and there’s no incentive for them to get out of this destructive pattern that their lives are in… Audio: 39 sec

There are hundreds of millions of dollars of waste in the social service programs, and that’s the area that I’m going to focus on. People know me, they know I’m an advocate for people with developmental disabilities. People who come into this world who need our help through no fault of their own, we need to help them to the fullest extent that we can afford. But able bodied people, people who are on the system and work the system, and are not encouraged to get on a pathway of self-reliance, I’m going to zero in on those people… Audio: 1m 21 sec

On the municipality side, the cities and towns need to do exactly what has been done on the operations side of state government, but even better, and I know some of them are. We’re beginning to hear where cities and towns are working concessions with police and fire and some of the schools. That needs to continue. The public employee pension program is a bust. It needs to be stopped and frozen and we need to go forward with a 401(k). Audio: 30 sec

There are so many things that we need the political will to do, and I’m just optimistic that come November, we’ll have some people in that General Assembly that will support me… Audio: 59 sec

Can the Governor do it alone? No. The Governor can propose, through budget articles and the budget submission, to make a lot of these changes but the General Assembly has to make those changes. It’s within their purview. If anything this November, if I’m fortunate enough to be elected Governor, I need a bunch of help in that General Assembly, or we’re not going to get a lot more done… Audio: 33 sec

The Civics Interview with John Robitaille: "What do you believe are the basic limits on what powers government can acquire over time?"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Question 3 to Republican Party candidate John Robitaille: Much of the history of the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution has been defined by the fact that the Federal government gets to decide the scope of that Amendment and has over time tilted the playing field in favor of claiming more power for itself. Currently, we are seeing in Central Falls an analogous process at the state level where over time the state disregards its own rules with regard to municipalities, so that it can do what it wants, resulting in power being moved away from the local levels of government that are closest to the people. Do you believe there is an actual problem here? What do you believe are the basic limits on what powers government can acquire over time?

Really, if you look at our constitution, it's the other way around. It's the people giving power to the government. We're into basically, I don't want to say untested waters, but in a way we are, because we are in such extremely difficult times right now... Audio: 45 sec

Regionalization: I've come out strong against forcing any regionalization or consolidation on the communities, period. I think we can have incentives, we can look at regionalizing police, fire, schools, if and only if the communities involved voluntarily want to do it. That to me is perhaps almost a defining issue for the powers of the state and the powers of the communities... Audio: 56 sec

As far as the state imposing mandates on cities and towns, I'm against it. I'm against unfunded mandates, I'm against a lot of mandates...That's why I want to shrink government. I want to shrink government to historical levels, in terms of people programs and policies... Audio: 1m 8 sec

...The constitution should drive everything we do. In the real world, when you start looking at modern times, and how our cities and towns are so interlaced with each other in many ways, from taxes to education funding to healthcare...to say that we're not an interlaced society in right now in Rhode Island...it's not the real world.Audio: 45 sec

It's something that has to evolve. There's no one answer. I think we have to look at each situation as it comes up, make sure that its constitutional, make sure we protect separation of powers. But to me, if there's a common sense approach that can be offered to the people of a community, we need a mechanism to be able to do that, and if it's a local referendum that pops up and says 'hey, in lieu of bankruptcy, we agree that the state can come in and help us', then we ought to do that...Audio: 1m 21 sec

The Unthrilling Election

Justin Katz

On last night's Matt Allen Show, Matt and I pondered why there seems to be little excitement around Rhode Island's gubernatorial race. Stream by clicking here, or download it.

September 29, 2010

The Civics Interview with John Robitaille: "Are we living in a society that believes that financial-industry needs take precedence over democratic voice?"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Question 2 to Republican Party Gubernatorial Candidate John Robitaille: One set of criteria in the new fiscal stabilization law that can trigger a municipal takeover by the state involves decisions made by bond-rating agencies. The 1990s RI Supreme Court opinion which will likely be used to justify this new law begins with the statement that "on or about July 16, 1993, Moody's Investors Services, a recognized bond-rating agency, downgraded the town of West Warwick's municipal bonds to a grade Ba". Are we living in a society that believes that financial-industry needs take precedence over democratic voice?

Rhode Island is such a small state and I know the fear recently was if Central Falls were to fall, what would the next communities be. And if bankruptcy was in fact an option, would there be this whole domino effect of the weaker cities and towns all imploding… Audio: 44 sec

It is a Constitutional question, and I think if I’m reading the Supreme Court’s decision correctly, it was almost a defensive move to protect as well as an adverse effect coming up on the bonds which would have cost all of the taxpayers across the state, outside of West Warwick. Similarly to current Central Falls problems, as the bond ratings go down, it will also have a negative effect on the other communities that perhaps are doing a better job. At what point does the state have an obligation to help protect all the other communities… Audio: 1m 39 sec

And what recourse do the citizens of the community, be that West Warwick or Central Falls, have in this process. Should there be an immediate referendum that says yes, we as citizens want the state to come in and help us because our elected officials have fallen short of their responsibility….Now, if the citizens of Central Falls got together and said no, we don’t want the state to help us, we want to go down in flames, then if that’s what the municipal rescue legislation says that everyone has agreed to, then that’s another kettle of fish… Audio: 48 sec

My fear from a statewide level is if you have a municipality that chooses the wrong road while there were other options on the table, and that choice is going to adversely impact the rest of the state, I think there needs to be more conversation than there was between Central Falls and the state, before the municipality chooses on its own to take the course of receivership…Maybe we need to do more to protect the Constitutionality of it and specifically bring it to the people… Audio: 53 sec

The Civics Interview with John Robitaille: "Are we living in times so extreme that basic principles of democratic government need to be shoved aside?"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Rhode Island's media and civic organizations have done an excellent job giving the 2010 Gubernatorial candidates forums to present their views to the public. However, there has been at least one noticeable gap in the questions put to the candidates so far: questions involving some particular recent and longer-term state-level developments that relate to the basic extent of government.

I pre-submitted a series of four questions to the major gubernatorial candidates on this subject and asked for an opportunity to interview the candidates directly. Presented next is the interview with Republican Party candidate John Robitaille.

Question 1: The legislative year began with the creation of a Teachers' Health Insurance Board, which on its face looks to be a violation of the separation-of-powers provision of the RI Constitution. We ended the year with the passage of a municipal fiscal stabilization bill, that can be basically used to suspend democratic governance in any RI municipality. Are we living through times right now that are so extreme that basic principles of democratic government need to be shoved aside?

Absolutely not. I am, as you probably know, a big Tenth Amendment proponent, and I as governor will support the other states in pushing back on the Obama health care plan. I believe it's unconstitutional for the Federal Government to force any Rhode Island citizen to buy anything... Audio: 38 sec

This healthcare committee, for the health insurance for teachers: bogus, I absolutely agree. Separation of powers said the executive branch will handle things within its purview... Audio: 26 sec

...I think the Central Falls situation was a very unique and unfortunate situation. The City Council and the Mayor already made a decision to go into the receivership, and my understanding is that that decision was made without any consultation at al, with any state resources from the Governor's office, the General Assembly...and you would think that a city that's already relying on the state to pay 100% of its school budget would have some obligation at least to see if there was another option... Audio: 37 sec

The question should be maybe restated. If a municipality is so irresponsible and its elected officials so corrupt that it is to the detriment of its citizens of that city and the citizens of the state, the question should be when and if should the state intervene to assist a community. I think that the city of Central Falls has, for years, been a corrupt city... Audio: 53 sec

...I think that since the city council and the Mayor took that first move, to say that we can't do it on our own, we need help from the court, they opened up the floodgate for intervention... Audio: 51 sec

September 28, 2010

The Civics Interview with Ken Block: "Is it by design or by accident that government has been growing as if on autopilot?"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Question 4 to Moderate Party Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Block: The combined state and municipal budgets for Rhode Island have grown steadily (adjusted for inflation) over the past 10 years, a period of time which includes September 11, 2001 and its immediate aftermath, the end-of-the-financial world as we knew it in 2008, and the relative lull (at least domestically) in between. Is it by design or by accident that government has been growing as if on autopilot -- or would you disagree with that characterization entirely?

...and you neglected to identify that Don Carcieri shrank the number of employees...The budget breaks down in some very specific ways. We have fixed costs, in terms of employees, we have pension costs and the pension cost is a significant driver of what's coming into our budget and will become much more so, over the next five years... Audio: 1m 33 sec

Our health and human services budget has necessarily had to rise up, because we have so many more people who have fallen into the social safety net at this point, whether it's unemployment benefits, whether it's food stamps... Audio: 25 sec

Part of it is the inability to really and truly identify the fix to the pension mess that we have. We keep nibbling at the corners, but nobody has really sat down and said 'here's where we are, here's where we need to be in 10 years, and here's the steps we need to take to get there'... Audio: 1m 4 sec

...other areas that could explain and go into the growth, other than pensions are that we have to provide raises to people. You can't freeze them at a specific level in time... Audio: 53 sec

I think I've identified the biggest drivers of it. We spend the majority of our services in health and human services, Medicaid in particular, a very big cost driver to us as a state, and we are not actively looking hard at our Medicaid expenditures, and we're not doing a good job of squeezing the waste and fraud out of it... Audio: 48 sec

...I want to go in hard, at waste and fraud, inside of Medicaid. There's corporate, systemic waste and fraud. There are sham companies that set up, that put in false claims and all kinds of things that happen. And states that have used technology to go after waste and fraud inside of their Medicaid programs have found between 10% and 20% waste and fraud. Since this is Rhode Island, let's assume 20%...If you round up to a 2 billion dollar program, 20% of waste and fraud in a 2 billion dollar program is 400 million dollars... Audio: 1m 27 sec

...We've been in a serious crisis for a decade at least, and in 10 years our elected officials have not done a good job of concentrating and solving two problems that most Rhode Islanders care about: we need to fix our economy and fix our educational system. And we're beginning to chip away at the educational pieces finally, but economically, not only have we not done much to address it, but in this gubernatorial race so far, most of the candidates don nothing more than pay a passing homage to small business... Audio: 47 sec

Our biggest problem is the fact that even with a 5.99% high-end income tax rate, Mass. remains at 5.3%. That's an 11-and-a-half percent difference between those rates, and that's enough of a difference for a small business owner to look across the border, and make the simple decision to go there... Audio: 27 sec

We have to get a hold of our chronic budget deficits. We have to stop them, and I believe we can do that by squeezing out the waste and fraud from within health and human services. We have to be able to bring our income taxes beneath Massachusetts. And the biggest thing that I have proposed, that I believe can really make a difference in this state, is instead of $125 million in loan guarantees, $75 million which has gone to Curt Schilling, what I would do with $125 million worth of money is break it into three venture funds... Audio: 1m 32 sec

The Civics Interview with Ken Block: "What do you believe are the basic limits on what powers government can acquire over time?"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Question 3 to Moderate Party Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Block: Much of the history of the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution has been defined by the fact that the Federal government gets to decide the scope of that Amendment and has over time tilted the playing field in favor of claiming more power for itself. Currently, we are seeing in Central Falls an analogous process at the state level where over time the state disregards its own rules with regard to municipalities, so that it can do what it wants, resulting in power being moved away from the local levels of government that are closest to the people. Do you believe there is an actual problem here? What do you believe are the basic limits on what powers government can acquire over time?

We'd almost have to take it on a case-by-case basis...I believe that there should be boundaries on what the Feds try to do in one direction, and I may believe that some other things that are Federally guided decisions and programs are probably appropriate... Audio: 29 sec

So let's take Obamacare...Let me just state right for the record that I think that we do need to come up with a way to make sure that we can insure people who can't afford to be insured. Do I think Obamacare is the correct answer for that? No. It think it's imperfect, and I think there are some things that are actually wrong with it. But do I think we have to take that step as a society, to figure out how to provide insurance across the board? I do, and I do think that is guidance that has to come from the Federal level down to the state level... Audio: 1m 38 sec

Let's just talk about ballot laws, ballot access and how you qualify a political party across the country. It's an absolute mess. You have states that are free-for-alls, you have states that make it almost impossible to do, and it's all about the thing that's nearest and dearest to every American, our democracy...I would be a proponent of Federal guidelines and Federal mandates that all ballot access has to become reasonable and it has to be uniform across all 50 states... Audio: 1m 26 sec

There are a lot of scenarios where I would think that the Federal government shouldn't be reaching in and dealing with things. And one example I would say, and this is a very clear cut example for me, is the determination of Medicaid compensation. One of our significant problems we have in this state is the fact that our Medicaid rates that are set by the Federal government are significantly lower, the reimbursement rates are lower, for primary care docs and dermatologists and bunch of different folks than they are right across the border in Massachusetts. This is some sort of crazy Federal thing that happened apparently back in the 60s where our reimbursement rates were set significantly lower than our neighbors, and in 50 years no one's been able to figure out how to correct that problem... Audio: 1m 21 sec

I don't subscribe to the fact that all government is bad – although we have a lot of examples of really bad government in Rhode Island. I believe that smart government can play a role and should play a role in working things out...In a classic Moderate example, for this particular situation, I can see both sides of it, and it's really dependent on the specific issue. Audio: 50 sec

September 27, 2010

The Civics Interview with Ken Block: "Are we living in a society that believes that financial-industry needs take precedence over democratic voice?"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Question 2 to Moderate Party Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Block: One set of criteria in the new fiscal stabilization law that can trigger a municipal takeover by the state involves decisions made by bond-rating agencies. The 1990s RI Supreme Court opinion which will likely be used to justify this new law begins with the statement that "on or about July 16, 1993, Moody's Investors Services, a recognized bond-rating agency, downgraded the town of West Warwick's municipal bonds to a grade Ba". Are we living in a society that believes that financial-industry needs take precedence over democratic voice?

Looking at state finances holistically, and looking at our town finances holistically, our elected leaders have done an awful job of strategic planning and thinking and laying out sustainable budgets and insuring that we can handle financial crises when they come down the line... Audio: 50 sec

The credit agencies and the bond ratings, where they look at the states finances and town's finances as a whole, look at the unfunded liabilities and pension plans, look at where the tax dollars are going and look at what other liabilities you have is a very necessary benchmark in my opinion, to determine if we have a problem or don't have a problem, because we don't really have a mechanism other than that, unless we send in the Auditor General because something has been raised as a red flag. I think the bond ratings agencies are probably a good canary in the coal mine, to determine if we have a substantial problem... Audio: 1m 4 sec

We have to get our hands around this, and do something about it, because the average taxpayer is entrusting their elected leaders to just do the right thing, and when they don't, what do we do? We don't really have a recall provision. We don't have a systematic way for assessing the health of governments and budgets and finances... Audio: 25 sec

We need to have the early warning. We need to have a process and procedure in place. If a town is spiraling down the insolvency drain, how do we yank it out of there...You can certainly make the claim that we're stepping out of the boundaries of the strict constitutional read of things, but in the absence of a better idea right now, I think it's appropriate and necessary, because we can't have the disasters unfolding that appear to be happening to us... Audio: 42 sec

The Civics Interview with Ken Block: "Are we living in times so extreme that basic principles of democratic government need to be shoved aside?"

Carroll Andrew Morse

Rhode Island's media and civic organizations have done an excellent job giving the 2010 Gubernatorial candidates forums to present their views to the public. However, there has been at least one noticeable gap in the questions put to the candidates so far: questions involving some particular recent and longer-term state-level developments, that relate to the basic extent of government.

I pre-submitted a series of four questions to the major gubernatorial candidates on this subject and asked for an opportunity to interview the candidates directly. Presented first is the interview with Moderate Party candidate Ken Block.

Question 1: The legislative year began with the creation of a Teachers' Health Insurance Board, which on its face looks to be a violation of the separation-of-powers provision of the RI Constitution. We ended the year with the passage of a municipal fiscal stabilization bill, that can be basically used to suspend democratic governance in any RI municipality. Are we living through times right now that are so extreme that basic principles of democratic government need to be shoved aside?

Those are two interesting examples, because I think they highlight two completely opposite ends of the spectrum of problems and how you might address them. As far as the teachers' health insurance board is concerned, that's an absolute end-run around taxpayer representation and it's wrong in every way. I'm wholly against it...As it is, the taxpayers don't have a lot of direct control over way too much that happens in their lives... Audio: 50 sec

As far as the Central Falls receivership is concerned, what we've seen is a failure of representative government to do what's right economically for the people of Central Falls and the state, I believe, does have a very strong vested interest in making sure that our cities and towns don't tumble into insolvency... Audio: 35 sec

The reason that I called out the difference between the teachers' health insurance board and the receiver is that in some ways, an all-powerful receiver gives you a way to work your way around these embedded infrastructures that work against the best interests of the taxpayers... Audio: 40 sec

My hope and desire would be that we don't have to go the receiver route... Audio: 34 sec

September 24, 2010

No Comment from Lincoln Chafee on Organized Labor's Focus on Opposing RI Pension Reform

Carroll Andrew Morse

Based on independent Gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee's description of party primaries as "destructive beasts" in response to Christine O'Donnell's victory in the Delaware Republican Senate primary (earlier Anchor Rising item here), I e-mailed the Chafee campaign to ask if Mr. Chafee believed that opposition to pension reform constituted a purity test for organized labor's political activity in Rhode Island, which also fed a "destructive beast" when applied to the primary process.

A spokesman for the Chafee campaign said that the former Senator had no comment on the matter.

September 22, 2010

Caprio's New Target

Justin Katz

So, in the year-plus prior to the election, General Treasurer Frank Caprio courted the Rhode Island right — Anchor Rising, the Ocean State Policy Research Institute, and the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition — to foster the general impression that he'd be a tolerable governor. He talked the small-business, free market talk.

During the primaries, while battling Attorney General Patrick Lynch, he tacked left. There were various examples of that move, but his active support for same-sex marriage comes to mind as something dramatically contrary to previous assurances to us.

Now that he's won the Democrat nomination, he seems to be moving toward the union-left:

State General Treasurer and Democratic candidate for governor Frank T. Caprio promised to "go out and get the money" to launch "one of the biggest public-works projects" Rhode Island has ever seen to put thousands to work fixing the state's road and bridges. "As much as we can do, as quick as we can do it," he said. "What we'll do is we'll sit down with the experts in the transportation area and the banking area, and we'll be a leader in the country in making sure we have the funding."

Sure. We'll just "go out and get the money" from all of those revenue sources that we're not yet exploiting so that we can create union jobs. The relevant question for conservative reform groups in the state is what happens when "get the money" comes into inevitable conflict with the interests of private-sector industry.

September 17, 2010

Lincoln Chafee and Destructive Beasts

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Philip Elliot of the Associated Press, former Senator and Independent Gubernatorial Candidate Lincoln Chafee had this to say about Mike Castle’s defeat in Delaware’s Senatorial Primary…

[Chafee] pointed to Castle's loss Tuesday as the latest example of a competent lawmaker losing his seat in an unrealistic purity test.

"These primaries, they're destructive beasts," Chafee said in an interview with The Associated Press at his campaign headquarters. "If those people are going to control the Republican Party, good luck. You'll have a tough time getting into the majority. Ever."

The reaction raises the question of what Mr. Chafee thinks about primary results closer to home and more immediately relevant to the office he is currently seeking.

In Tuesday night’s Rhode Island statewide primary, the issue of pension reform was the purity test for the Rhode Island Democratic party’s organized labor wing. Progressives, venerable party stalwarts (i.e. Al Gemma), and conservative-leaners all were expelled from their seats, basically for having supported recent reform proposals brought to the legislative floor. Does Senator Chafee believe that organized labor’s singular focus on opposing pension reform in this primary is feeding a “destructive beast” within the Rhode Island Democratic party, or does he find purity tests to be acceptable when applied by organized labor to its particular goals?

Details on Tuesday’s nights primary results in Rhode Island are available here.

September 15, 2010

Keep the Bugs Out

Justin Katz

Know the politician by the company he keeps:

In 2007, two well-known figures on the Northeast political landscape dropped their Republican party affiliation and became Independents with a capital "I''. One was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the other former U.S. Senator Lincoln D. Chafee.

On Thursday, Bloomberg is headed this way to endorse Chafee's bid to become Rhode Island's next governor.

Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg will submit to a voluntary inspection of his person and belongings to ensure that he isn't carrying the bedbugs that have begun to plague his city to our state. And hopefully, the Rhode Island electorate will ensure that he doesn't transmit his nanny-state vision for government action here, either.

September 14, 2010

Maybe I'm Too Cynical, But...

Justin Katz

Did you happen to catch this article by Felice Freyer?

Do you want a governor who will embrace the law and make the most of it? Independent Lincoln D. Chafee, Democrat Frank T. Caprio and Moderate Party candidate Kenneth J. Block all accept the law — with varying degrees of enthusiasm — and all pledge to carry it out fully.

Do you want a governor who will resist the law, perhaps join other states in challenging it in court, and take a minimalist approach to its requirements? Either of the Republican candidates would probably satisfy you on that score. John F. Robitaille and Victor G. Moffitt both say they believe the law is unconstitutional.

Do you want a governor who will enter office with a deep understanding of the health-care system and the nuances of the federal overhaul? You're out of luck.

Two points follow from the above. First, developing a nuanced understanding of ObamaCare hasn't been necessary, because opinions are generally formed, and the issue has been defined by the side that believes the whole "reform" ought to be scrapped on both pragmatic and principled grounds.

Second, ObamaCare defined the current Congress and administration — and set the tone for this election season — in terms of the fact that voters who wanted elected officials who would develop an understanding of "the nuances of the federal overhaul" before making it the law of the land were out of luck.

September 13, 2010

The Cooperative Temper

Justin Katz

Among the arguments that candidate Victor Moffitt has made for his election as governor has been an asserted ability to work with the General Assembly without Governor Don Carcieri's "CEO mentality." By that phrase, he means dictating policies and taking an overbearing posture. As I've written, I disagree with that assessment.

I also disagree when Moffitt brings his "accountant mentality" to the question of school regionalization. In that case, I'd argue that the political dimension is far more significant, to final costs, than the arithmetical dimension. (And the fact that the teacher union heads take Moffitt's side should be reason for him to question his stance.

It's interesting, therefore, to see those two threads come together during a Republican primary debate:

"To say that there's no savings in regionalization is a straight-out lie," said Moffitt, still fuming after the taping [of a debate with primary opponent John Robitaille] at Rhode Island College ended. ...

Robitaille said there has been "no documentation that says it will save us any money," and evidence that the "cost of administration per student" in the merged Chariho Regional School District is higher than it is in Westerly. Beyond that, "I believe that control of the schools should be at the local level."

But Moffitt said "anyone in their right mind" would recognize that by whittling 36 school districts down to 4, "we are going to save money ... and have less bureaucracy. Even John should understand there will be less bureaucracy."

The sniping meanness ("even John should understand") on an issue that is certainly arguable, going so far as to fling accusations of lying is discordant against a message of cooperative leadership. That's especially true when the candidate is pitting his assertions of common sense against his opponent's reference to evidence. And this is against a fellow Republican with whom the candidate agrees on most issues.

August 31, 2010

Ken Block, on Frank Caprio's Move in the 38 Studios Saga

Carroll Andrew Morse

In the course of an interview with Moderate party Gubernatorial Candidate Ken Block, I had the opportunity to get Mr. Block's immediate reaction to the news that General Treasurer and Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio had taken steps today to prevent the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation loan-guarantee deal with 38 Studios from being implemented...

"I've been firmly and emphatically against the 38 Studios deal right from its announcement. Frank has been all over the map on it...He's apparently has gone directly to the ratings agencies and has been stirring the pot with them. I don't know if Frank has overstepped any boundaries or not, in his formal capacity, as either a citizen or as a Treasurer..." Audio: 27 sec

"For me, it's been abundantly clear from day 1 that this deal was the wrong deal for Rhode Island. It's unfortunate. I'm not sure we can unring the bell. I'm not sure that we should unring the bell, because if a state begins reneging on deals, that could have a negative impact on other deals you might do with other entities down the line..." Audio: 34 sec

"I know that I'm still adamantly against the deal, but will anybody do a deal with us in the future, not being able to be sure that the deal is going to go through?...I wish that Frank was clearer all the way along. Like I said before, he's been all over the map in terms of where he is. He's against it today, we'll see what happens tomorrow..." Audio: 35 sec

Katherine Gregg has details on the steps taken by Treasurer Caprio, at the Projo's 7-to-7 newsblog.

Ian Donnis of WRNI radio's On Politics blog has extended reaction from RI Governor Donald Carcieri.

August 23, 2010

Victor Moffit on Regionalization, the Tenth Amendment and Running for Governor

Carroll Andrew Morse

A major theme of Republican Victor Moffitt's campaign for Governor of Rhode Island has been regionalizing municipal services. At Saturday's Tenth Amendment rally at the RI Statehouse, I asked Rep. Moffitt if he would like to answer a question on the parallel between the states losing power to the Federal Government, obviously contrary to the letter and spirit of the Tenth Amendment, and municipalities losing power to a higher level of government -- which he helped me rephrase into a more-to-the point form: Why shouldn't regionalization be viewed as a power-grab by the state? His answer was...

"Regionalization, really, is a ground-up concept. This is where individual taxpayers in the state want to eliminate the bureaucracy that we have now of 36 school departments in Rhode Island serving about 148,000 students, and the high property taxes we have in the local communities. I would be against it if the state government mandated regionalization...but my regionalization plan comes from the bottom up..."Audio: 1m 3 sec

"The Federal Government throws these mandates to the states, and they don't support them, things like Obamacare or No Child Left Behind, and that's something I would oppose, because I think education is a state right. We should be able to do whatever we want..."Audio: 30 sec
I also gave Rep. Moffitt the opportunity to comment directly on why people should support his bid to become the next Governor of Rhode Island...
"...This time you have very few choices in the race. You can either tank with Frank, you can sink with Linc, you can get more Don with John, or you can stick with Vic..."Audio: 17 sec

"People can knock my aquarium program, but it's not just an aquarium. It's an aquarium with a science center, a research center, a desalinization plant...When [people] think of Rhode Island, I want them to think of the Mecca for marine research, the place that has the biggest aquarium. When you think of oceans, you think of the real Ocean State..."Audio: 1m 24 sec

August 18, 2010

Candidates Have to Know Better

Justin Katz

I do not intend to express a position on the RIGOP primary race for governor with this post, but sometimes the ball comes lofting so nice and slow over the net that it's beyond my self control not to swing at it:

On Tuesday they went at it again during an hourlong debate on WPRO radio. They touched on an array of issues — including the specific taxes they would each like to cut, and got another chance to zing each other.

Moffitt also tried out his newest campaign slogan: "Sink with Linc.... Tank with Frank.... More Don with John.... Stick with Vic!"

Or maybe, "Die quick with Vic." (Put aside the peculiarity of a non-incumbent asking people to stick with him.)

Other candidates for office should take note of two lessons, here:

  1. Be as positive as you can, especially when it comes to a slogan or catch phrase. Moffitt used 10 of his 13 words, above, badmouthing other people... and thereby making readers/hearers think of them.
  2. Don't out clever-'n'-cute yourself. In a state of a million people, somebody else just might reverse all of your efforts with an cleverer twist.

August 1, 2010

"Independent" Candidate, Inside Players

Justin Katz

It's old news, at this point, that Linc Chafee won the endorsement of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, but I've been holding on to my clipping of the article until a moment presented itself to highlight the essential truth of his campaign:

Chafee described the endorsement as a recognition of his "long record of support of public education," his role in settling the teacher dispute he "inherited" when he first won election as mayor of Warwick, his resistance while he was still in the U.S. Senate to "some strong Republican pressure to support [school] vouchers," and his call for the appointment of a mediator to help settle the standoff between the teachers union and the administration in Central Falls.

The "independent" Chafee is the candidate for people who wish to preserve the unsustainable civic structure that has brought Rhode Island to its knees. If he wins, we should all be very grateful that the governor has very limited constitutional authority, in this state.

At least Democrat Frank Caprio can boast, according to the article, the support of unions that actually need Rhode Island to be economically healthy in order to survive:

In May, he won the endorsement of two locals in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. One represents about 1,000 construction electricians, and the other about 1,000 telephone, cable and Internet workers.

"Almost 45 percent of our local is unemployed right now, and their families are hurting," said Al Durand, business manager of one of the two locals. "We need Frank's leadership and his ideas, and I know our local is ready to rally behind him."

July 27, 2010

Does Governor Wannabe Chafee Believe in Bloody Sock Conspiracy?

Marc Comtois

I try not to dwell on Sen. Chafee too much. But, since he's leading in the polls, it is worth asking if Rhode Island voters want an ill-informed, gullible conspiracy-believer as their next governor. From the ProJo 7to7 blog:

Former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee is questioning whether Boston Red Sox great Curt Schilling faked his bloody sock in Game 6 of the 2004 AL championship series....Chafee said he doesn't know if he trusts Schilling, and incorrectly said Schilling's own teammates questioned whether Schilling faked his bloody sock. A Baltimore Orioles broadcaster claimed in 2007 that Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli said it was faked, but Mirabelli denied it, and the broadcaster later apologized.

A Chafee spokesman said later that Chafee's mistrust isn't because of the sock, but because he's using taxpayers' money for a business with no track record.

Well, that last is spin (and they're still spinning). Regardless of whether Chafee really does believe in the conspiracy or if it was indeed a "tongue in cheek" comment, it's important that Chafee--who supposedly bemoans dirty politics and likes to put forward a holier-than-thou, I'm-above-partisan-politics persona--chose to go with a personal attack. So, to re-phrase my first question: Even if he doesn't like the new deal cut between the State of RI's Economic Development Corporation and Schilling's video game company, 38 Studios (the efficacy of the deal is another discussion), do Rhode Islanders want a Governor who will publicly question the trustworthiness of the owner of a company that just agreed to relocate to your state? That's impolitic, to say the least, and this whole episode is yet another example of Chafee's questionable, um, reasoning ability. So, do we really want a nice, albeit sorta crazy, uncle running the state?

July 22, 2010

One Teachers Union Endorses Chafee While Another Unendorses the Master Lever

Monique Chartier

Confirming what a teacher had told me last week, Katherine Gregg reports yesterday on projo.com that the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals has endorsed former Senator Linc Chafee (I) for governor.

Right around the same time, Ian Donnis breaks the news that NEARI Exec Dir Bob Walsh, in what is probably a massive coincidence, has gone all cold on the master lever.

I would certainly suspect that we won’t be encouraging any of our members to pull the master lever as they make their way down the ticket and make choices in each of the races . . . . So you can put us down as opposing the master lever.

You don't suppose this is related to the fact that the teacher union fave for governor is politically unaffiliated and would stand to lose tens of thousands of votes via the master lev ...?


July 8, 2010

Chafee and His Supporters Get National Play

Marc Comtois

The national press loves the independent candidate and USA Today (h/t Ian Donnis) is the latest to report about them in this year of the disgruntled voter. RI's own Lincoln Chafee plays prominently in the story and all of the classic Chafee themes are there. First, there's the typical RI attitude towards "name candidates" like Chafee:

As Chafee carries bags of the eatery's signature doughboys — a cardiologist's nightmare of deep fat-fried dough and crab — Antonio Ferreira, 67, comes over to get his photo snapped and a trio at the next table give him a friendly wave.

"I remember when he went to Cedar Hill Elementary School," says Hilda Poppe, 83, a retired librarian from Warwick whose younger daughter was in Chafee's class. She and her husband, Norman, 84, are having lunch on the outdoor deck with their older daughter, Nonnie O'Brien, 59.

"I always vote Democratic except for him," O'Brien says.

"He has a Republican name but he's always been independent," her father says approvingly.

What about his idea of raising the sales tax?

Norman Poppe hadn't heard about the proposal. "I don't like that," he says, frowning.

"But if it pays the debt," his wife chimes in. With the state's finances in trouble — there's a projected budget shortfall for next year of $405 million — she says any remedy will be painful.

"The others are saying they won't do it," her husband concedes, "but they might when they get in anyway."

Can talk ourselves into and out of anything, can't we? Then there was the Chafee-as-victim of ungrateful Republicans theme:
Chafee, 57, is a happier, more confident candidate than he was during his last race four years ago.

Then, he was challenged from the right in the Republican primary by Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey. He lost in November to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.

Chafee felt rejected by the GOP, which no longer seemed willing to include moderate Republicans like himself.

Lest we all forget, Chafee won the GOP primary, largely thanks to the support of national Republicans, who campaigned for him & gave him money all while Chafee actively ran as and independent-minded Republican who proudly stood against a President of his own party. As to the Moderate part? Well...that leads to the final theme: an example of the Chafee disconnect:
After losing the race, he taught at Brown, his alma mater, and wrote a book titled Against the Tide. In 2008, Chafee voted for Barack Obama, his first vote for a Democrat. He weighed joining the Green or Libertarian parties but found neither a good fit. Chafee considered Rhode Island's fledging Moderate Party but thought the name sounded "wishy-washy."
In other words, "I'm a moderate but I didn't run as a Moderate Party candidate because that name, 'moderate', sounds so wishy-washy." So now he's a liberal Independent instead of a "big M" moderate (there is a difference, right?) because I guess that doesn't sound as wishy-washy. Okey doke.

A Candidate and a Blog

Justin Katz

Matt and I discussed his interview with Victor Moffitt and matters related to Anchor Rising on last night's Matt Allen Show. Stream by clicking here, or download it.

Working with the Problem

Justin Katz

Appearing on the Matt Allen Show, gubernatorial candidate Victor Moffitt sings a lot of music to the ears of right-leaning reformers in Rhode Island. Starting each year's budget process from zero and implementing five percent across-the-board reductions each year for eight years are great ideas from which to begin a turnaround of state government. I'm not convinced, though, that Moffitt truly acknowledges the underlying problem.

He does start out very close, though:

Basically, who runs the state is the speaker of the house. He's the captain of the ship; he's the king of Rhode Island. The speaker of the Senate, you might as well say is the queen, right now. They rule the state. The governor has pretty much a figure head position. He does have the bully pulpit. He can look at some policy decisions and try to put together a decent budget.

Moffitt arguably understates the authority that naturally comes with the act of running the state as its chief executive, although, were the governor to refuse to implement legislated policies, the courts would likely step in. But on the matter of those policy — which must be the focus at this time — the only question for a governor is how he can move an unwilling legislature toward the changes that Rhode Island needs, and here, Moffitt flies right off the tracks:

I just think that the governor could work a lot closer with the General Assembly, and in the past that's not been a working relationship. That's something that I would bring as a governor — to work a lot more closely with the General Assembly to get legislation passed.

If the premise is — as it must be — that the king and queen of Rhode Island (and their compliant legislative entourage) are harming the state out of a lack of political will and a surplus of self interest, then what use is a figure head governor who stresses working closely with them? Matt Allen brought forward the question of whether Moffitt would use the bully pulpit (that he, himself, acknowledges as the only tool of the RI governor) to highlight things that the General Assembly is doing wrong, and the candidate responded by lamenting Don Carcieri's "CEO mentality" — giving orders and not compromising.

Letting slide the debatable characterization of CEOs, one must wonder what leverage Moffitt believes that he would have if he shies away from making his case to the public, and thereby disrupting his "close working relationship" with the people who actually have authority to give him orders.

I come small business, with a humble financial background — no big name family with a lot of money. So I look at fixing things from a different perspective: working with the adversaries. In other words, bringing some of the leadership people — the Finance Committee people — in right from the beginning, when I'm crafting the budget to put it together, so when it's presented to the General Assembly, and to the Finance Committee, I already know that this budget is going to go through.

Matt went on to note that governor gets all of the blame for the consequences of the legislature's wrong-headed acts, and Moffitt didn't seem to see the point. Bringing the General Assembly into the governor's part of the budget process — even assuming that legislators who dawdled for months on a desperately needed supplemental budget and who typically wait until the very last moment to thrust their final budgets into law, each year, would cooperate — only makes easier the political maneuver of blaming the governor.

Moffitt responded that he can work with the General Assembly — Gordon Fox, specifically — and doesn't care if the Democrats take credit for all of his good ideas. That's quite a different matter, though, than the challenge that Matt accurately described: The legislators' practice is to give the governor credit for all of their bad ideas.

Overall, Victor Moffitt's statement translates as follows: "The General Assembly is the problem. Having been a member of the problem, I can and will work closely with it." Now, maybe he's got some grand plan for action that he'll unveil when, soon into his first term, he encounters the choice of using his one weapon — the bully pulpit — or appearing to work with the General Assembly, but that's what voters need to know about up front. And maybe he's hoping things will operate differently with a more politically balanced legislature that gives teeth to his veto power, but then that's an outcome toward which he must be working even as he runs his own race, and I didn't hear him stress its importance.

July 2, 2010

John Robitaille at the State Republican Convention

Carroll Andrew Morse

John Robitaille won the State Republican Party endorsement as their candidate for Governor on Wednesday night. In his speech prior to the endorsement vote, he described the readiness and the relevance of his candidacy...

"...Over the past five months, I have built a campaign organization, and we are poised to execute a very targeted and strategic campaign plan to win in November. In the coming weeks, I will be rolling out my specific plans to address the issues most important to the voters: jobs, the economy, taxes and spending. It will be an austerity plan with specific goals and objectives. It will include tax-relief for veterans, for seniors, and for small-businesses." (Audio: 1 min 22 sec)

"There has never been a better opportunity for the Republican Party. Our message is so strong, so timely, so meaningful, that the Democrats are shamelessly trying to hijack it..." (Audio: 1 min 20 sec)

After winning the nomination, according to Ian Donnis of WRNI radio's (1290 AM) On Politics Blog, Mr. Robitaille used his acceptance speech to immediately begin differentiating himself from several of the other candidates in the gubernatorial field...
"We have political opponents who are well-organized, well-funded, and deeply entrenched....They have killed the economy, and now they want to come to our rescue...."

"Democrat Frank Caprio is trying with all his might to sound like a conservative...."

"Mr. Chafee, Rhode Island doesn’t need more taxes, and we certainly don’t need a legacy politician who has abandoned our nation’s founding principles. Linc has moved so far to the left he now appeals to the progressives who’ve been abandoned by Caprio and [Patrick] Lynch...."

June 30, 2010

Rhetoric for the Times, at Least

Justin Katz

State Democrats' lopsided (88 to 32) endorsement of Frank Caprio indicates that party operatives understand, at least, what sort of rhetoric the electorate wants to hear, just now:

"We are going to be the party that holds the line on taxes. We are going to be the party that streamlines state government. We are going to be the party that says to small businesses: 'We want to get out of your pocket and out of your way,' "Caprio said from the podium at the head of the packed room. "And we are going say to state employees ... that the pensions that you have saved for, they're going to be there, they're going to be affordable for the taxpayers and they're going to be sustainable..."

The message — something that could have been said at a Republican convention — didn't dissuade his supporters.

Even if we assume that Caprio is sincere, his characterization of the RI Democrats is (his "we") is laughable. They'll keep on doing what they're doing — namely, striving to preserve the comfort of their special interests (unions and welfare statists) and assuage their ideologues (progressives) while continuing to protect themselves in any way possible. Then, when Rhode Island's situation persists in its deterioration, they'll point to Caprio's rhetoric, which will never have come anywhere near implementation as policy, and declare that Republicanesque policies have been proven not to work.

And Rhode Islanders will buy it.

June 26, 2010

The Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate: Question About Illegal Immigration

Carroll Andrew Morse

The third question asked at Wednesday night's debate hosted by the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund at CCRI's Liston Campus Auditorium was from Roberto Gonzalez, who asked about illegal immigration, specifically whether candidates believed it was the paramount civil rights issue of this decade, and what were the candidate's positions on E-Verify, the Governor's Executive Order, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and the Arizona immigration law. Mr. Gonzalez also asked what candidates would do to encourage minority participation in decision making bodies in Rhode Island.

Unofficial transcripts of the answers offered by the candidates are available via the links below, listed in the order that the candidates spoke.

Continue reading "The Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate: Question About Illegal Immigration"

June 25, 2010

The Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate: Question About Education

Carroll Andrew Morse

The second question asked at Wednesday night's debate hosted by the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund at CCRI's Liston Campus Auditorium came from two young ladies from Classical High school and the Young Voices organization, who asked about Rhode Island's low test scores for minority students, implementing the newly passed funding formula to get the state's share of education spending to 50%, and funding for English-language learner programs.

In the first go-around, most of the candidates focused on the funding formula and general educational issues. During the follow-up phase, the moderator asked the candidates to focus on the issue of English language learners. Unofficial transcripts of the answers are available via the links below, in the order that the candidates spoke.

Continue reading "The Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate: Question About Education"

June 24, 2010

The Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate: Question About the Economy

Carroll Andrew Morse

Brian Hull of Rhode Island's future asked the first question at last night's debate hosted by the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund, held at CCRI's Liston Campus Auditorium. The question was about what the candidates would do to put the state's unemployed back to work "in jobs that pay a living wage", and what their plans were for increasing the availability of affordable housing in the state.

Unofficial transcripts of the answers from the candidates are listed below, in the order that they spoke.

Continue reading "The Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate: Question About the Economy"

RI Governor 2010 - Immigration Reference Chart

Marc Comtois

Based on Andrew's reporting as well as the ProJo and the GoLocalProv accounts, here is a quick reference chart detailing the 2010 RI Gubonatorial candidates' stance on four key Immigration related issues: Governor Carcieri's 2008 Executive Order, E-Verify, in-state college tuition for the illegal/undocumented, and the Arizona Immigration law.

Carcieri Exec orderAgainstAgainstAgainstApproveQualifiedQualifiedApprove
College TuitionApproveApproveQualifiedApproveQualifiedAgainstAgainst
Arizona LawAgainstAgainstAgainstAgainstAgainstQualifiedApprove

* Giroux - Not ready for an in-state tuition program, though implies eventual support.
** Block - Would tweak the language of the executive order to ensure no racial profiling. Approves of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who are in the process of becoming legal.
***Robitaille - Supports Executive Order, but would use the Florida secure communities model instead of 287(g). Would consider some components of AZ law for RI, but states are different.

The Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate: Opening Statements

Carroll Andrew Morse

The links below will take you to unofficial transcripts of the opening statements of the candidates for Governor of Rhode Island, speaking at last night's debate hosted by the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund, held at CCRI's Liston Campus Auditorium. Candidates are listed in the order they spoke.

Continue reading "The Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate: Opening Statements"

June 23, 2010

Liveblogging the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate

Carroll Andrew Morse

[6:22] Greetings from the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund Gubernatorial Debate. Intros just finished, rules being discussed...

[6:25] Opening statements...

Victor Moffitt up first. He knows the social issues and cuts that have been made. Next gov has to have a strong financial background.

John Robitaille: Born in Central Falls, served in the military, then started a business. Next gov needs a broad background. Key issue is jobs, and we need a healthy economy to bring jobs.

Ken Block: Started new party because of frustration with politics as usual, and underperformance of economy and education. Too much short-term thinking in government, we need new blood to fix that.

Lincoln Chafee: Majority of Riers think RI is going in the wrong direction, we need to fix the economy. Too much contention with e-verify and with unions. Touts his executive experience, and his willingness to buck the party line.

Todd Giroux: He feels most qualified to bring programs to the people of RI, to bring them directly to the people, without interference from bureaucracy.

Frank Caprio: Looks forward to discussion of issues important to the minority community. Lives in a majority-minority neighborhood. Is married to a first generation American, who teaches at Central High. Our country and state is founded on people sacrificing and working hard, wants ladder to success to continue to be there.

Patrick Lynch: Running for governor to continue standing up for people. Our system of government is fundamentally broken; taxes are too high and there is too much regulation. Need someone who will make decisions for everyone in the state.

[6:52] First question: How will you improve the economy so everyone can earn a living wage, and what will you do about housing in RI and our foreclosure rate?

Victor Moffit: Reduce sales tax and build a resort aquarium. Re: housing, work with banks to make more money available to people that want to buy housing.

Robitaille: Private sector creates jobs, Rhode Island needs to become competitive in business. Bad governance has made RI uncompetitive. Reduce taxes, reduce regulation, streamline permitting. Improve education, including in the trades. It's all about jobs. Housing: Seniors are being driven out of their homes. If we stimulate the economy, other issues will take care of themselves.

Block: Our economic uncompetitiveness is reversible. No reason things here have to be different than in Massachusetts. We need to get our taxes lower than Mass. Once we have a good product to sell, we need a governor who will then sell Rhode Island. RI could be the Research Triangle of the northeast. Target mobile businesses first.

Chafee: Inexcusable for RI to have 3rd or 4th highest unemployment in the country. Was able to deliver for RI as a Senator, helped to move 195 -- healthcare industry has moved there, Intermodal train station, road into Quonset -- $1 billion brought to RI.

Giroux: Require banks to mandatory modify loans that are in trouble. Ask the unemployed to volunteer in state work teams. Improve cash flow to home owners and business owners with low interest revolving funds. We have room to grow these kinds of programs.

Caprio: Small business is the economic lifeblood of the community. Has heard from business owners, don't raise taxes and cut the red tape. Has run the Treasurer's office like a small business. Give access to credit. On housing, will support bond issues for affordable housing.

Lynch: Our state must get its priorities in order. Current administration has over-emphasized richest and wealthiest. Has offered a small-business bill of rights. Can get loans out if we put $$$ where it should be, instead of in the flat tax. On housing: As AG he shut down bad lenders, and he has put out a housing policy that will protect lenders.

[6:56] Caprio with first attack of the night -- says people cannot afford the Chafee tax plan; new taxes in RI will not lead to a reduction in property taxes.

[6:57] Lynch: Deepwater project will raise costs on businesses and everyone.

[7:08] Question about education with multiple parts. Most candidates take the funding formula angle...

Chafee: Has a record of re-investing in the schools. Won't cut state aid. Will protect higher education.

Block: Financial stability is needed to fund the funding formula. We need a growing economy and efficiently run programs. More flexible contracts to help with efficiency.

Lynch: Need education to prepare for the future. Funding formula should be heralded. Something about curriculum I couldn't quite follow.

Caprio: Funding formula must be supplemented with incentives. There should be incentives for large-aid recipients to work together.

Robitaille: Concept of money following the students is a good one, we need more competition in education. Supports commissioner Gist's efforts to fix broken schools.

Moffitt: Regionalize to stop competition between towns and cities.

[7:36] Immigration question with multi-parts. I'll give you the answers on the Governor's executive order, the Arizona law, and in-state tuition, for now.

Caprio: When my ancestors arrived, there was an orderly process for accepting immigrats. It's a shame there is no path to citizenship. Against Arizona. Supports exec order. Yes on in-state tuition.

Lynch: Immigration is the number one civil rights issue in America. More hate groups in America than ever before. We've become more divided as a society. Has defended civil rights. Disagrees with the cold-hearted poorly calculated executive order. Arizona law is hurtful, insulting and unconstitutional. Yes on in-state tution.

Moffitt: Let more people into the country legally. Supports exec order, protects legal people who are here. Arizona law is a 10th Amendment issue -- states should protect their legal residents. In-state tuition is for legal residents of Rhode Island.

Robitaille: Immigration is significant. Supports exec order BUT would not support 287(g), would use the Florida secure communities model. Arizona is not Rhode Island, would consider some components of AZ law. Opposes 14th Amendment being used to end-run immigration law. No in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Chafee: Immigration should be addressed at the Federal level. Supported Kennedy-McCain comprehensive plan. Yes on in-state tuition, no on Arizona law.

Giroux: Immigration is community building. No on AZ. Not ready for an in-state tuition program.

Block: Has helped some of his employees immigrate legally. Shut down employers who take advantage of illegal immigrants. AZ law is asinine and xenophobic. Would tweak the language of the executive order. In-state tuition for illegal immigrants in the process of becoming legal.

[7:48] We're into closing statements now. Lot's of audio to come...

June 14, 2010

John Robitaille at the Rhode Island Republican Assembly Endorsement Convention

Carroll Andrew Morse

This past Saturday, the Rhode Island Republican Assembly held its endorsement convention for statewide candidates. Candidates were allowed to make a short statement, then took questions from the audience. As always, RI-RA members asked direct and pointed questions of the candidates.

John Robitaille spoke to the convention about his campaign for Governor and received the official endorsement.

Opening statement:

"Our country is going in the wrong direction. Our state is going in the wrong direction..." (Audio: 0 min 35 sec)

"Let me tell you what it means to be a Republican to me. I am a Reagan Republican. I believe that government should be small, taxes should be low, we must hold people personally accountable for their decisions and their choices in life, and we need to protect our individual freedoms and liberties..." (Audio: 0 min 41 sec)

"I am not going to be a governor who goes along to get along. I will take on the public employee unions. I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our next Attorney General, Erik Wallin, to fight corruption. And I am not going to get along with the Democratic controlled General Assembly. They have controlled this state for over 70 years, they are to blame..." (Audio: 1 min 8 sec)

Audience Question: The Rhode Island Dept. of Education is both inefficient and arguably corrupt. What's your thinking about changing it?

Answer: "Well, I'm not sure they are corrupt, but we've got to do something...I am supportive at this point still of the format of Race-to-the-Top, not so much of the money that is coming in, but I like the concept of looking at a school, and giving one of four options..." (Audio: 1 min 3 sec)

Audience Question: What's your position on voter initiative?

Answer: "First of all, I am supportive of representative democracy. However, when that doesn't work, like it's not working in the state of Rhode Island, where we have no balance in our General Assembly, then yes, I am very much in favor of voter initiative." (Audio: 0 min 15 sec)

Audience Question about regionalization and consolidation on Aquidneck Island.

Answer: "Regionalization and consolidation...are great buzzwords, but I know other states that have tried it, and what we have to do is walk very carefully. I am very supportive of the state forming a BRAC-like base-realignment commission that the military uses to shut down and relocate military bases. It's a very thoughtful process, where a commission is formed and empowered with significant powers to study and come up with recommendations and then to bring it to Congress for an up or down vote..." (Audio: 0 min 56 sec)

Audience Question: What is your position on abortion?

Answer: "I am and have been pro-life. When I was twenty-one years old, my wife gave birth to twin daughters, and the problem was that she was only five-months pregnant, and I stood in the emergency room and the nursery for hours watching my two daughters struggle for life. No one will ever tell me that life does not begin at conception..." (Audio: 0 min 24 sec)

Victor Moffitt at the Rhode Island Republican Assembly Endorsement Convention

Carroll Andrew Morse

This past Saturday, the Rhode Island Republican Assembly held its endorsement convention for statewide candidates. Candidates were allowed to make a short statement, then took questions from the audience. As always, RI-RA members asked direct and pointed questions of the candidates.

Victor Moffitt spoke to the convention about his campaign for Governor.

Opening statement:

"The most important thing this year is that we cannot let a Democrat be Governor in November..." (Audio: 1 min 0 sec).

"The next governor has to have a strong financial background. I don't have to tell you what's going on with the budget; we all know what we have. I don't want to talk about gloom and doom...we don't need any more taxes, that's one thing I'm definitely against..." (Audio: 0 min 32 sec)

"...and to prove that I was a true conservative, one of the first things I did [as a state legislator] was put in the Defense of Marriage bill...I'm the only person in the state who had enough guts to get up and say I support traditional marriage, one man, one woman..." (Audio: 0 min 38 sec)

Audience Question: What are you going to do for Rhode Island to get small business built back up again?

Answer: "...in my business for the last 38 years doing taxes, I've done the bookkeeping and taxes for several hundred businesses -- unlike the General Treasurer, who's got this great bill for small business...$50,000,000 he's going to put into a small business loan fund. Shouldn't someone ask him where that money is going to come from..." (Audio: 1 min 22 sec)

"Another thing that I'm proposing is to reduce our Rhode Island sales tax..." (Audio: 0 min 45 sec)

Audience Question: Unions and union contracts are out of control. What can we do to give more autonomy to the communities?

Answer: "I'm actually going to say that I think the problem is the opposite of that. As most of you know, I've been talking about regionalization and consolidation services since 1998....How good would Rhode Island be if we could replace 36 teacher contracts with 4? If we could replace 80 fire contracts with 5? Do you think that would be a little improvement for the state of Rhode Island?" (Audio: 0 min 47 sec)

Audience Pushback: "No", "What do you mean by that?"

Answer: "The point is that, under my regionalization plan, there will still be local autonomy. What I am saying is that by regionalizing, we have to stop competing between our towns and cities...So what we do by regionalizing is take the poorer communities and bring them up to a higher level. Now I also know that when we regionalize, we have to take the school money out of our local property tax..." (Audio: 1 min 9 sec).

Audience Question: If you win the primary, you'll be going up against a well-funded opponent. Can you be competitive?

Answer: "That's a very, very good question. I can answer it very simply...the office of Governor is not for sale to the highest bidder...This is going to be the year where the person with the most money may not necessarily win. I myself plan on raising half-a-million dollars..." (Audio: 0 min 52 sec)

June 10, 2010

Liveblogging the First Rhode Island Gubernatorial Debate

Carroll Andrew Morse

The comments section of this post will be host to an open thread, where you can join Anchor Rising contributors in posting your reaction to tonight's Rhode Island gubernatorial debate in real time.

Click here to follow and partake of the discussion.

June 1, 2010

Obligatory June 1 Horse-Race Post

Marc Comtois

It's June, the first day in fact, and there's a new poll out from Rasmussen (via ProJo) with a snapshot of the RI Governor's race. The scenario summary:

Lincoln Chafee (I) - 35%
Frank Caprio (D) - 32%
John Robitaille (R) - 25%
Undecided - 9%
= = = = = =
Frank Caprio (D) - 35%
Lincoln Chafee (I) - 33%
Victor Moffitt (R) - 22%
Undecided - 10%
= = = = = =
Lincoln Chafee (I) - 37%
John Robitaille (R) - 29%
Patrick Lynch (D) - 19%
Undecided - 15%
= = = = = =
Lincoln Chafee (I) - 35%
Victor Moffitt (R) - 28%
Patrick Lynch (D) - 24%
Undecided - 13%
= = = = = =

Moderate Party candidate Ken Block wasn't included in the poll. Doesn't look good for Lynch and it looks like it doesn't matter (too much) who runs for the GOP.

May 20, 2010

Campaign Fire Money

Justin Katz

Monique's topic on the Matt Allen Show, last night, was David Kane's intended use of the settlement money that he receives as the father of a Station Nightclub fire victim to prevent Attorney General Patrick Lynch's advancement into the governor's seat. Stream by clicking here, or download it.

May 14, 2010

More from the Gang of Possible Governors

Justin Katz

Ed Fitzpatrick's column from last Sunday, about the gubernatorial candidates' appearance before the left-wing audience of the Women's Fund of Rhode Island and the Poverty Institute, was excellent. Two points thereon, first having to do with a question of abortion purity:

But Lynch also leveled veiled criticism at Caprio's voting record on abortion-related legislation, saying he "unequivocally" supports abortion rights and urging the audience "to evaluate people's records" because "State House folks try to chip away at that basic right."

Later, when I asked what Lynch was referring to, his campaign manager noted that in 2001 the Senate voted 28 to 14 for the Women's Right to Know Act, which The Providence Journal described as "requiring that women who are seeking abortions must wait 24 hours and receive information ranging from health risks to the doctor’s identity." Caprio, then a senator, voted for the bill, the Senate Journal shows.

So "unequivocal support" cannot allow for a one-day wait to have the procedure? Must one advocate for drive-through baby killing?

On the opposite end of the ledger, John Robitaille fares much better, in Fitzpatrick's telling, than in that of the news department:

Robitaille, who was Governor Carcieri's senior adviser for communications, articulated a conservative philosophy without seeming like a skunk at a liberal lawn party. He noted he was a Republican. "But I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth," he said, explaining he was born in a Central Falls tenement.

Robitaille noted Tuesday was Rhode Island Independence Day and said, "Wouldn't it be awesome if we could be here tonight to celebrate true independence for Rhode Island's families, Rhode Island's kids and single moms, to know that we had beaten the war on poverty?” But, he said, "We've lost that war" and "Government has failed us." He said high taxes are driving people out of the state.

The poor will be always with us. The best we can do is to open up paths for advancement and stop sweetening the air in the pit.

May 6, 2010

Move Left for Lefties, Right for Righties

Justin Katz

So, yeah, it's the nature of politics that candidates move as far toward the ideology of a given audience as they think they can get away with, which increases the appearance of their agreement. Still, there are two additional — and worrisome — factors at play when the Providence Journal can describe the performance of six candidates for governor at a progressive event:

On many fronts, there were more similarities than differences among the slate of candidates that included two Democrats, two Republicans, a Moderate and an independent.

The first factor is that the candidates are, in fact, too close to each other, politically. At least, it can be said that so many things are considered to be relevant to government, at this point in our state and country history, that there's always plenty of room to emphasize agreement. As an exception that proves the rule, consider this odd moment:

Republicans Victor G. Moffitt and John Robitaille were not asked about their positions on sex education or abortion, although both have described themselves as antiabortion.

I don't know whose decision it was not to ask the two Republicans those questions, but it can't be healthy. Either they didn't want to say or the event hosts didn't want their audience to have to hear something with which they disagreed.

The second factor is that the political tracks are too well worn, especially in Rhode Island. The candidates know what they're supposed to say to whom, and for the most part, the various constituencies are content to hear it. And there we go. Business as usual continues. How else to interpret this from Robitaille?

Robitaille, Governor Carcieri's former communications director, went the furthest when he endorsed the creation of a task force to improve the state's cash-assistance program, known as welfare.

"I don't think throwing more money at a problem is going to solve it," he said. "I'm not talking about cutting programs. I'm talking about making them better."

May 2, 2010

The Far-Left Moderate

Justin Katz

When Ken Block first began putting together the Moderate Party, he gave me some practical reasons that he was participating more in discussion on RI Future than here. I wasn't particularly concerned, whatever the justifications, but as his candidacy for governor has brought forward, and as the transcript of his Projo chat palpably illustrates, part of the reason was surely that he's pretty radical in his social beliefs. In other words, he's got some good-government instincts, and he may be "moderate" on fiscal matters, but he's arguably as far left as any other candidate in the race on most other matters.

We've already heard his desire to sign same-sex marriage into law, but consider this answer on immigration (emphasis added):

I was in Arizona when Gov. Brewer signed her immigration bill into law. I am against this type of immigration reform. It is open to profiling and smacks of xenophobia. Illegal immigration is a serious problem and has a large associated cost to society. We need the federal government to significantly change our current immigration laws and postures and then follow up on that change with appropriate changes at the state level. I am for E-Verify and use it in my businesses.

Well, we don't want Americans to "smack of xenophobia," I guess, least of all in a border state that's beginning to see social turmoil and drug wars spill over our open border.

The more I hear from Ken, the less I'm sure what he would bring to the table, as governor. The top executive position, in this state, isn't really empowered to do much about our fundamental problems. That's especially true of a "reform" candidate who says such things as this:

I am a concensus builder - there are a lot of disaffected legislators in our General Assembly who would be willing to work with the right Governor - a Governor open to dialog and realsistic solutions to the problems plaguing our state.

Ah, yes. If only Governor Carcieri were more of a consensus builder, then all of those well-intentioned legislators would come around. Baloney! The General Assembly will dialogue all day — all year — even as the state falls apart. Governor Block would be rolled on every substantive issue, while he makes same-sex marriage the law of our little land and backslides on immigration.

I'd love to hear why I'm wrong, but in the meantime, I suppose we can thank Ken for ensuring that there's a broad swath of political space to the right of center in this race. Block, Lynch, Chafee, and Caprio cluster pretty closely on the left, as far as I can see.

May 1, 2010

Association Ain't Nothing

Justin Katz

Ed Fitzpatrick takes a look at the controversy surrounding Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau from the perspective of Attorney General Patrick Lynch's office:

... Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, a Democrat running for governor, is a longtime friend of Moreau's, and Moreau's spokeswoman is Lynch's girlfriend and former legislative director, Cynthia Stern. ...

Lynch, who is divorced, confirmed Stern is his girlfriend. "She is working for a mayor who needs a spokesperson," he said. "If behind that, there is a suggestion that I'm not doing the right thing, that's not true. I ethically, professionally and personally decided immediately that I shouldn't be involved in the case," he said. "I am as far away from it as I can be."

Well, as far away from it as one can get from one's closest group of friends. One can only hope that we don't wind up having to admit that "only in Rhode Island" can a politician be so intertwined with political corruption and remain a viable candidate for governor.

April 23, 2010

Attempting to Control the Media for Campaigns

Justin Katz

Ian Donnis relates the strange tale of General Treasurer (and gubernatorial candidate) Frank Caprio's appearance on Tim White's Newsmakers:

Caprio's press secretary, Tim Gray, solicited the treasurer's Newsmakers' appearance earlier this week, as part of a media blitz to promote his pension plan. But the Caprio team balked at the concept of Caprio being paired as a guest with the NEA's Robert Walsh. Caprio ultimately agreed to appear by himself...

Ian notes that Caprio proclaimed that he'd appear with any other candidate for governor, even though the media outreach was ostensibly a function of his role as treasurer. In either case, one can understand his desire to spend his TV time promoting his plan, rather than defending it against a key figure from a dominant special interest group who not only knows the issue, but also has prepared talking and spin points.

But understanding is not agreement. It's more than a little insulting for politicians to treat mainstream media productions as venues for self promotion distinct from the host's view of newsworthiness. Perhaps Tim should have declined the appearance if the treasurer's office/Caprio campaign was insistent that it/they must be allowed to craft the outcome.

April 15, 2010

Magic Numbers and Pension Politics

Justin Katz

Rhode Island GOP Chairman Gio Cicione makes a good point about pensions and General Treasurer Frank Caprio:

In fact, Mr. Caprio knew better a long time ago. As early as April 2002, when he was Senate finance chairman, Mr. Caprio indicated that an 8.25 percent return had "proved to be an overly optimistic assumed rate of interest for the fund" (reported in The Journal on April 17, 2002). Nonetheless, throughout his career in the General Assembly and his tenure as treasurer, Mr. Caprio promulgated this budget fantasy to mask the truth from taxpayers and from public employees who will depend on the state pension fund to provide their retirement benefits.

As a candidate in the upcoming gubernatorial election, and with the pension fund in trouble, Mr. Caprio is working now to appear fiscally responsible, but he has a lot to explain about his two-decades-long political record of endangering the retirement of public employees and increasing the pressure on taxpayers to fill the holes in the fund.

I'd expand the criticism to anybody in government who complied with the conspiracy to behave as if such expectations were founded in reality. Anytime people in government — or in any capacity — get to make up numbers that determine what they can do with the money at their disposal, others should be skeptical. They should be especially wary if the predictions are anything other than clearly conservative.

We are where we are, however, and it appears that Big RI Labor is content to lean on public officials to find some way through the mess that they've jointly created. Since the magic of government accounting cannot reach beyond the printed page into actual transfers of funds (at least in sufficient amounts), it's going to come down to one of two options: Taxes are going to have to increase greatly, or pensions are going to have to be trimmed. Union members should not risk tremendous confidence that it will be the former.

April 12, 2010

Laffey's Surprise Consistency

Justin Katz

Surprising everybody, once again, Steve Laffey has repeated the message that he's given every few months for the past year: He's not running for governor. Actually, the new news is that he's not running for anything:

... Lincoln Republican town chairman Michael Napolitano said he got a phone call from Laffey last Monday that put the speculation to rest.

"I can tell you that he called me on Monday evening and made it very clear that he had done some polling, and based on the results, he felt that [Rhode Island] was not ready for the changes that needed to be made to fix our state and that he was not going to run for any office ... period," Napolitano said in an e-mail.

The latest round of speculation had to do with Laffey's planned appearance at this week's Tea Party, which is now apparently in question. How long, do you suppose, until Steve can have a public appearance without rumors of a candidacy swirling?

March 22, 2010

Patrick Lynch Not Interested in Challenging the Federal Government's Power to Impose a Purchase Mandate on Individuals

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Steve Peoples of the Projo's 7-to-7 newsblog, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch (to no one's surprise, really) is not interested in joining a potential lawsuit by the states challenging the Federal government's power to require that individuals purchase something...

"I don't like a lot of the decisions that the legislature makes every day. Do I go up and sue them? And do you have the basis to do so, more to the point?" Lynch said in a late-morning interview, characterizing the looming lawsuits in a dozen states as "political posturing....But at the outset, moments after the vote, when they're crying and putting up [lawsuit threats] on Facebook in Texas first, there's a procedure that we go through as attorneys general when something is more substantive, and this seems to be a partisan driven mechanism," said Lynch, a Democratic candidate for governor.

"To me it's a moment that should be celebrated," he said of Sunday's health-care vote.

March 21, 2010

Will Patrick Lynch be Getting a Phone Call Tonight...

Carroll Andrew Morse

...and do we have a new issue in both the Rhode Island Attorney General's and the Governor's races, based on this facebook post from the Attorney General of Texas (h/t NRO)...

Texas attorney general Greg Abbott Facebooks: "I am organizing a conference call tonight for AGs across the country. We will discuss our litigation strategy about the healthcare bill. I will update you on Facebook after the conference call."

A What'll You Do for Us Forum

Justin Katz

While the topic of grassroots activism is in the air, I'd like to register my opinion that this doesn't really appear to be an "open candidates forum":

The largest state and municipal employees' union has invited three of the candidates for governor to what has morphed in recent days into one of the first open forums of the gubernatorial campaign season.

Council 94, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees had initially planned to close all its March 20 convention, including the candidates' forum, to media coverage.

The three invited candidates (in case you couldn't guess) are Linc Chafee, Patrick Lynch, and Frank Caprio. Why only those three?

[Council 94 spokesman James] Cenerini said the invitations were limited to those candidates who "the membership has indicated have the higher potential for support."

Voters should take note of the union three. Voters should also take note that neither Chafee nor Lynch has bothered to appear before the truly open candidate forums that the Rhode Island Voter Coalition has organized.


Also of interest is that the only other candidate meeting the union's standard for an invitation was General Treasurer candidate Tom Sgouros — on the grounds that he was such a big hit at last year's meeting. Guess we know what to expect with the likes of Sgouros in office...


According to Rhody in the comments, the union has canceled this forum and is scheduling one for all candidates in June. Interesting turn of events; wonder what changed.

March 4, 2010

A Toll on the Governor's Race

Justin Katz

For my call in to the Matt Allen Show, last night, the topics were the proposed toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge and Board of Regents Member Angus Davis statements against Lincoln Chafee and the importance of maintaining a strong chain of authority for necessary reform up every rung of government. Stream by clicking here, or download it.

March 1, 2010

Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 1

Justin Katz

Additional video from the Rhode Island Voter Coalition Burrillville "meet the candidates" gubernatorial Q&A may be found in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 1"

February 27, 2010

Board of Regents Member Angus Davis at RISC's Winter Meeting

Justin Katz

NOTE: Any members of the media who couldn't make it to the meeting and rely on this video for future reports are encouraged to do so, but a brief note of the video's source would be appreciated.

Rhode Island Board of Regents member Angus Davis came out with guns blazing in a surprise speech at the Winter meeting of the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition, as described in my liveblog of the event. (More video in the extended entry.)

Davis was especially animated when discussing an email from gubernatorial candidate Linc Chafee at the beginning of this clip.

Yesterday, I received an email from Senator Chafee. In this email, Senator Chafee asked for clarification on whether or not teachers had really been offered 100% job security, describing it as, quote, the basic question that must be settled, unquote. He said he does not want to, quote, inherit the labor mess, unquote, as he works to build a more prosperous Rhode Island as governor.

What kind of leadership thinks the basic question about a school in which only half of children graduate and 90% can't do basic math — what kind of leadership thinks that the basic question involves job security for its adults rather than the educational outcomes for its children?

Continue reading "Board of Regents Member Angus Davis at RISC's Winter Meeting"

February 24, 2010

Some Different (Not Necessarily Good) Ideas

Justin Katz

I don't know much about Coventry's Victor Moffitt, who has announced his intention to announce a run for governor as a Republican. Most of his reported ideas represent the sort of reform of which my opinion ranges from suspicious to hostile:

Rhode Island no longer has a surplus, but Moffitt in a brief interview said many of the themes of his campaign for governor will echo his 1998 campaign [for treasurer]. At that time, he proposed eliminating school spending from the local tax burden, establishing a statewide 7 percent flat income tax (which he says would bring in enough new revenue to establish a statewide school-funding financing plan) and breaking the state into four regional school districts. He also wanted to reduce the state sales tax to 6 percent.

Centralizing financial control of the schools: bad idea. Increasing taxes for most Rhode Islanders: worse idea. On the other hand, the article offers an intriguing glimpse of rhetoric from Moffitt's past:

In response to news that the state had logged a $132-million surplus in 1998, for example, he wrote: "A 'surplus' is created when taxpayers are overtaxed ... Every 1 percentage point of the Rhode Island sales tax represents about $70 million in state revenue. Therefore, we should reduce the sales tax to 6 percent ... to allow our Rhode Island retail businesses fair competition with our neighboring states."

His general perspective appears to be correct, if his solutions would ultimately exacerbate our problems. My mind, of course, went to the Tiverton school district, which had a quarter-million-dollar surplus this year yet continues to complain that taxpayers "cut" its budget by declining to increase it by an additional $627,000 (or so) in the last budget cycle.

February 6, 2010

More Wild Speculation...

Justin Katz

Something occurred to me when I read this:

But the administration on Thursday confirmed [Gary Sasse's] resignation as both administration director and head of the state Department of Revenue. No reason was given, though it is believed he resigned — after several previous threats — because Carcieri's proposed budget did not go as far as he believed necessary in seeking the reorganization of state government.

You know, with all the talk about who's doing what in preparation for unannounced campaigns, I don't think I've ever heard Sasse's name come up as a potential candidate for anything. Why is that?

Meanwhile, Ian Donnis has ruled out Middletown Republican Mike Kehew and John Hazen White, Jr., as potential Moderate Party candidates for governor. Ian stresses that, depending on his or her flavor of "moderate," the individual in the role could have a decisive effect on the results. It's pretty clear that Sasse would torpedo the Republican candidate, and he might also undermine Chafee, which leaves the Democrat, whoever that might be.

Of course, this is all just more wild speculation, which means concrete assertions of conspiracies will be sure to follow...

February 1, 2010

Re: Caprio Switching

Justin Katz

As a general rule of thumb, I find explanations built on political maneuvering to be more plausible than grand conspiracies. So, today we hear on the Dan Yorke show, of a Caprio supporter suggesting to a Laffey supporter that the treasurer might entertain the possibility of switching to the Republican Party to further his campaign for governor, and the rumor mill runneth wild.

The first thought in my head was that this particular rumor is hardly new. Almost exactly a year ago, when Anchor Rising sat down with Treasurer Caprio, I asked his thoughts on the strategy of Republicans running as Democrats. His unprompted response was: "Why not the reverse?" He also referred to the untapped structure of the Republican Party. (Summary and audio here.)

Does that indicate that this is a strategy that he's long kept up his sleeve? Perhaps, but his first move (more politically savvy) would probably be to run this idea periodically through the aforementioned rumor mill so that Republicans maintain a sense that he's somehow one of them even as he hugs liberal Democrats during the primaries. Don't fall for it. The last thing the RIGOP needs is to recover from the successful battle to purge the Linc Chafee camp by bringing in a Caprio camp, especially a Caprio camp that never actually switches over.

The second thought is that things have been looking, well, sticky for Attorney General Patrick Lynch. Apart from the general tremors that the Scott Brown victory caused in the state next door, Lynch has gotten all mucked up in the Charles Moreau scandal. This is relevant because anybody interested in an eventual Laffey candidacy — whether with the candidate's encouragement or otherwise — clearly has an interest in keeping Lynch in the race at least through the primaries. Promoting the notion that he's got Caprio so nervous about the primaries that he's considering switching parties would be a tricky way to encourage the attorney general to stick with the race.

In other words, this little tempest could simply be the dust kicked up when folks devote some air to spinning the news cycle — all with their own agendas, but all with conflicting interests in the lesson that the public takes from it all.

January 18, 2010

Market Policies, Not Marketing

Justin Katz

May I offer two suggestions for GOP gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille without setting off counterattacks and inspiring retrenchment? For good reason, he gives the impression of a marketing guy, and he's really got to break down the policies and principles that he expresses in direct, active sentences and then layer in the marketing. So, thought #1 is that what he intends to do should always emphasize his insight and power, not his powerlessness; I wrote "ugh" in the margins of the newspaper when I read this:

For starters, he told a news conference the first thing he intends to do is to write Rhode Island's U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse a letter this week that says "stop this foolish Stimulus II bill [moving through Congress] that is sending $373 million to the State of Rhode Island, almost $200 million of which is to build more sidewalks."

This puts the governor in a subservient role to the legislators. Citizens write to their senators; governors shouldn't have to. If the policy is to redirect stimulus money, the prospective governor should declare his intention to push resolutions through the General Assembly expressing Rhode Island's desired change; he should go directly to the president and insist that the state should have more of a say in how it uses money allocated for it.

I wrote "ugh x 2" when I read this part:

"The next thing we have to do is build consumer confidence. We have to stop talking down the economy. We have to start giving people hope. This is the state of hope," he said. At least, "I think it’s still hopeful ... [but] people are afraid. People are trying to save more money … and when people feel comfortable enough that that they've got some money to spend, they start spending it."

"I think everybody right now, tonight, should go out and take their husband or their wife to dinner and put twenty bucks, forty bucks, fifty bucks into that small restaurant that's struggling right now. That's how it is going to work," he said.

The first problem is that the expressed idea is essentially a marketing campaign, and Rhode Islanders are finally waking up to the fact that their problem is far deeper than perception. We're past the point of recoiling for the nation's bad image of us and are admitting that there's a reason for it. The governor that our state needs, right now, will be able to identify and attack the problem that blackens our view of our economy.

Robitaille's misdirection, here, continues with the notion that people should go out and blow money on dinner. People like to go out to dinner. If they felt comfortable spending the money, they'd be doing it without urging from a guy who wants to be the state's chief executive. But they don't feel comfortable spending on such things, right now, and not only does it send the wrong signal to ask consumers to save our crooked state, but it suggests that Robitaille doesn't understand the crux of what he's asking. Namely, our government is in its current condition because elected officials have spent too much money, with good intentions and bad. Encouraging residents to do the same gives the impression of the victim of some horrid disease insisting that a kiss on the lips by a healthy neighbor can save him.

January 15, 2010

A Battle of the Medias

Justin Katz

I'm not entirely sure what it was, but I found hilarious Matt Allen's tete-a-tete with Bill Rappleye about the latter's performance during John Robitaille's press conference announcing his GOP gubernatorial candidacy. Audio here.

On the substance of the discussion, I sorta split the difference. On the one hand, Matt's concern that Bill holds a personal grudge against a gubernatorial candidate is justified, and placing Bill's questions in the press conference context of other journalists with an ax to grind about Governor Carcieri's relationship with select media venues gives the whole thing the sound of hyenas who've found the Lion King's son out rambling in an elephant graveyard. Frankly, the notion that "objective" reporters should be able to disguise their personal feelings has things precisely backwards, if you ask me... readers/viewers/listeners should know that reporter X is ticked that she couldn't get an interview with a candidate's former boss.

On the other hand, Bill had a point that his skirmish was a small part of the press conference, and that it'd be helpful to know the origin of the perceived slight. But that points to something that I'm surprised neither Matt nor Bill brought up: Robitaille had no productive way to answer that line of questioning. Even if it were his intention, he couldn't declare, as a candidate, that he intends to stonewall journalists whom he doesn't like once he's elected to office. Moreover, he's not currently in a position from which he can be expected to badmouth the governor and/or reveal the administration's strategic discussions.

I'd note, in closing, that Rappleye did say he found Robitaille's openness and lack of overt political handling to be refreshing.

(Note: Yes, I'm aware that "media" is plural.)

January 14, 2010

On Activism & Chafee

Justin Katz

On last night's Matt Allen Show, Matt and I discussed his interview with gubernatorial candidate Linc Chafee and the great need for good-government types to pay minute attention to our government, this year. Stream by clicking here, or download it.

By the way, Matt's interview with Chafee is up here.

January 13, 2010

Chafee's Self-Illustration on Matt Allen

Justin Katz

Gubernatorial candidate Linc Chafee is on Matt Allen's show until 7:00 tonight (after which I'll be calling in for our weekly appearance), and it's comforting to know that everything you suspect about him is accurate.

Right at the beginning, Mr. Chafee emphasized cooperating with the General Assembly as something of primary importance and shortly thereafter insisted that, if he had his way, his new sales tax would be temporary. How perfect an illustration of Chafee's inability to address the world as it exists. Subsequently, Matt asked Chafee whether he can understand the plight of the average resident, and his answer was that, of course he could... he often had to raise property taxes on them when he sat on the Warwick city council.

Tune in.


Matt just asked about whether the unions will have to give more concessions. Seeming to ignore the public/private sector distinction, Chafee said — unbelievably — "Everybody's in the same boat, here."

January 12, 2010

And Then There Were Four - Robitaille in for the GOP

Marc Comtois

John Robitaille has made it official, from the ProJo:

John Robitaille, has made it official: he is running for governor on the Republican ticket....He touted his experience as one of Carcieri's senior advisers, saying: "It has been an extreme honor to have served Governor Carcieri over the past two years. The experience I have gained in the executive branch of state government will be invaluable to me as I move forward with the campaign.''

Robitaille is a native Rhode Islander and a Providence College graduate. Upon graduation from PC, Robitaille was commissioned a second lieutenant and served on active duty in the U.S. Army for more than five years. While on active duty, Robitaille served with the First Armored Division in Germany and then with Headquarters Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg, according to his resume.

He has 10 years of employee and labor relations experience as well as more than 20 years experience in marketing and communications.

Robitaille will be on the Dan Yorke show at 5 PM to talk about his candidacy. Hopefully it goes better for him than it did for Rory Smith...

January 11, 2010

Laffey Still Not Running

Marc Comtois

Those convinced that the motivation for closing the RI GOP primary begins and ends with former Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey's possible bid for governor have lost a talking point:

Former Republican Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey has opted against running for governor this year, despite a "Draft Laffey'' campaign by a conservative bloc within the state GOP to try to change his previously announced decision to sit out the 2010 elections.

Laffey told disappointed supporters over the weekend he was not running, and reaffirmed that in a statement issued early Monday morning that said:

"There has been quite a bit of speculation over the past several weeks as to whether I would enter the 2010 gubernatorial race in Rhode Island. This statement will put to rest any further speculation regarding my entry into the race... I am not a candidate for governor of Rhode Island and I have not changed my position.''

He continued: "To date I have not seen sufficient evidence to convince me that the majority of Rhode Islanders are in favor of the kind of fixes that I know Rhode Island needs to save it from financial collapse. Therefore, I am convinced that a campaign based on these ideas would not be successful.''

Hm. Gee, perhaps the ideological-based arguments being made by the primary closers (really "shifters"; the idea is to move the registration requirements back from "at the polling place" to 90 days before) are genuine after all....

January 7, 2010

Gates to Stay On As Secretary of Defense

Carroll Andrew Morse

For anyone theorizing that Rhode Island Senior Senator Jack Reed might become Secretary of Defense in time for either Patrick Lynch or Frank Caprio (but most likely Lynch) to opt to run in a special Senate election, instead of for Governor, the dream is now dead. From the Associated Press...

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration, will remain in his Cabinet post for at least another year, his spokesman said Thursday.

Gates, who has said he considers himself a Republican, told President Barack Obama in December that he would stay on at least through the end of 2010, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told The Associated Press.

January 4, 2010

Chafee Floats Expansion of Sales Tax in Gubernatorial Coming Out Party

Marc Comtois

After loaning himself a couple hundred grand, former Senator Lincoln Chafee announced his expected bid for Rhode Island Governor as an independent this morning. The headline is his willingness to expand the sales-tax base. From Katherine Gregg's story:

While he would prefer the state generated new revenue from economic growth, "not by raising taxes and fees,'' he said: "We have to honestly confront the immediate gap between the revenue we take in as a state government, and what we need to spend to support the services we provide, particularly our schools and state colleges.''

Chafee said he believes "the least harmful tax to job growth and economic development is a broad-based sales tax."

While Rhode Island's 7 percent sales tax is "already the nation's second highest, surpassed only by California...Rhode Island has one of the broadest lists of exemptions, including: food, clothing, over the counter drugs, over 70 categories that total $9 billion a year.''

"Make no mistake; I will oppose any changes to our taxes without first reforming our spending, particularly the mandates,'' he said. But "we have to make choices,'' he said, and "rather than forcing our property taxes to rise across Rhode Island, we should carefully examine a two-tier sales tax. Other states have this system and it is working.

"Illinois has a 6.25 percent sales tax but a separate 1 percent tax on food and over the counter drugs. Tennessee has a 7 percent sales tax but a 5.5 percent tax on groceries. Working together, we can find the right formula for Rhode Island, one that provides the revenue we need to spare property taxpayers an ever-increasing burden, while taking into account the strain that families already feel from taxes.''

This isn't the first time this idea has been floated--the Poverty Institute has been throwing this idea out there for a few years, for instance--and it's in line with Chafee's track record of favoring tax increases to "pay for" things while also proposing budget cuts. The only problem is that Chafee's brand of fiscal responsibility seems to always get the tax increase side of things through and not the promised cuts. I have little faith that a gravitas-challenged Governor Chafee will be able to persuade RI's General Assembly to do any different.

UPDATE: Chafee offers more ideas HERE (I assume this is the prepared text of his announcement speech).

December 29, 2009

Robitaille for Governor?

Carroll Andrew Morse

I just heard Republican State Party Chairman Gio Cicione state on the Dan Yorke show on WPRO (630AM) that John Robitaille, Communications Director for Governor Donald Carcieri, is considering running for Governor as a Republican.

Katherine Gregg has the story at the Projo's 7-to-7 newsblog...

Governor Carcieri's communications director John Robitaille has thrown his hat into the ring as a potential Republican candidate for governor.

In a interview on Tuesday, Robitaille said he knows he has two drawbacks as a candidate -- money and name-recognition.

But Robitaille, 61, of Portsmouth, said he has the political bug, knows the state issues inside-and-out at this point, and intends to spend the next several weeks talking to "every possible supporter'' to see if he can make a credible run for the state's top job.


Yorke speculates that Lincoln Chafee will announce on Monday that he's the Moderate party candidate. I speculate that that would definitely get the Moderates their 5% and eventually kill their credibility as a party of fiscal responsibility.


Republican National Committeewoman Carol Mumford, calling into the Dan Yorke show, says that John Robitaille would make a "wonderful Secretary of State", which begs the question of what other Republicans will be running for statewide office in 2010.


Hmmm. Possibly related to Update I, according to Steve Peoples of 7-to-7, Moderate Party founder and chairman Ken Block has announced he has settled his campaign-finance issue with the State Board of Elections, saying it makes sense to put the issue behind him.

UPDATED: Running Back to Scriptable Territory

Justin Katz

From the looks of this letter, included in a press release, RI Democrat Party Chairman Bill Lynch doesn't like the looks of the RI Voter Coalition event:

Dear Mr. Wright,

I write to you today in my capacity as chairman of the Democratic Party of Rhode Island with regards to the gubernatorial "debate" or "forum" you have attempted to organized and schedule for next month. After personally consulting with both Democratic candidates for governor and reviewing the Providence Journal's reporting of your efforts, I have advised and encouraged both Democratic campaigns to refrain from attending what clearly appears to be an orchestrated event designed to benefit another potential candidate.

Both the general treasurer and attorney general are ready and eager to engage in a public discussion of the important issues facing our state. However, I would respectfully suggest that any event which includes a "mystery guest" and another declared candidate seated in the audience creates what can only be described as a sideshow atmosphere. These variables combined with dramatic changes to the format after the two Democratic campaigns agreed to participate indicate that this event would be anything but fair and impartial.

It is my opinion that you systematically misrepresented both the purpose and specific arrangements of the aforementioned "debate." The people of Rhode Island deserve to hear an honest exchange of ideas between candidates brought together by well-respected and non-partisan organizations. I am well aware of ongoing discussions between both Democratic candidates and other reputable, non-partisan groups interested in sponsoring or hosting candidate debates. The voters of Rhode Island deserve more than politically crafted events disguised as good government forums.

Rhode Island will face significant challenges in the coming years and this a time for real leadership and serious, meaningful debate. I would proudly put either of our fine Democratic candidates up against any of the other rumored gubernatorial candidate as both are capable of leading this state in a new and better direction.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at my office, (401) 721-9900.


William J. Lynch, chairman
The Democratic Party of Rhode Island

There's a similarity, here, to suspicions that the Tea Party movement was just scripted partisan showmanship (which it wasn't). Real grassroots — the kind that involves citizens actually forming new groups and seeking to answer questions like, "Why can't we just host a forum?" — will involve some unpredictability and odd statements and maneuvers. That's the point. Folks who get involved that way — rather than signing on for "grassroots" activism that has been thoroughly vetted and neutered — are challenging the usual practices.

That factor, mixed with an understandable fear that the people of Rhode Island might wake up to the mess that entrenched powers have made (think chloroform and date rape) help to explain Lynch's paranoia.

ADDENDUM (5:35 p.m.):

And in the time it took me to drive home, with a stop to pick up some paper towels:

PAWTUCKET - The two Democratic candidates for Rhode Island governor, General Treasurer Frank Caprio and Attorney General Patrick Lynch, spoke by telephone within the hour and have agreed to refrain from participating in a January forum / debate organized by Coventry resident Steven Wright.

No word on whether the candidates sought to reconcile their concerns with Mr. Wright, first. Remember this when either of these candidates comes looking for your vote during the general election.

Only in New England Could a Self-Described Moderate Hope to Get Away with Doing Public Appearances Only in Front of Ideologically Progressive Groups

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Katherine Gregg, who describes herself as a reporter for a newspaper calling itself the Providence Journal(*), soon-to-be-announced Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee has not decided whether or not he will participate in the January 8 candidates forum to be held by the Rhode Island Voter Coalition...

Asked if he intended to participate in the first [gubernatorial] candidates forum of the campaign season on Jan. 8, Chafee said he believes candidates should have “the courage to stand up and face questions,” but before committing to this particular event –– which is to be moderated by the Rhode Island chairman of Pat Buchanan’s 2000 campaign for president –– he wants to know more about the group sponsoring it.
Democratic Party candidates Frank Caprio and Patrick Lynch have already confirmed their appearances at the RIVC event.

Chafee, you should recall, made an appearance at a "Drinking Liberally" event earlier this year. (Caprio and Lynch have also made Drinking Liberally appearances). Candidate Chafee should explain to Rhode Island voters what the vetting criteria are that the Rhode Island Voter Coalition doesn't obviously meet, that Drinking Liberally organizers do.

Also, if former Senator Chafee or any of his aides would like to see for themselves what happens at a Rhode Island Voter Coalition event (it's kind of like a "Drinking Liberally", but without an audience overwhelmingly composed of liberals and beyond [and there may also be some differences in the availability of alcohol {my apologies to the RIVC folks, if I just depressed your turnout a bit}]), video coverage of the October 16 Rhode Island Voter Coalition forum, recorded by Anchor Rising, is available here, here, here and here.

(*)This non-standard construction is being used to help maintain a consistent flow with the reporting on the Rhode Island Voter Coalition that appeared in yesterday's Political Scene column in the Projo...

Aides to the two Democratic officeholders have confirmed their candidate’s plans to take part in the “Meet the Candidates Forum” that a group calling itself the Rhode Island Voter Coalition has scheduled for 7 p.m., Jan. 8, at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick.

Organizer Steve Wright, who describes himself as a 42-year-old construction worker from Coventry, said the candidates will each get a chance to speak. They will also be given an equal amount of time to answer questions posed to them by the moderator, Mark Berardo, the Rhode Island chairman of Pat Buchanan’s Reform Party campaign for president in 2000.

December 28, 2009

Blueblood Political Legacy #3 to Enter Race

Justin Katz

Well, when readers take to emailing me breaking news, I suppose I must assume broader interest, even when I can only muster an amused snort: Linc Chafee has announced his intention to announce his intention to run for governor:

In a brief media alert released Monday afternoon, Chafee said he would kick off the campaign with an announcement at the Iron Works Tavern at the Hilton Garden Inn on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick.

Hopefully he'll participate in the Rhode Island Voter Coalition at the Crown Plaza in Warwick on January 8th with Frank Caprio and Patrick Lynch, so that attendees can observe just how unrepresentative our current slate of candidates actually is — or rather, how representative they all are of the same limited group.

December 23, 2009

The Draft Laffey Movement Moves Ahead

Carroll Andrew Morse

The Associated Press is reporting that 19 city and town Republican chairs met with former Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey this past weekend to discuss the possibility of him running for Governor, but that Laffey hasn't made any decisions yet...

Lincoln GOP chairman Michael Napolitano said Laffey attended a meeting Saturday with leaders from 19 local GOP committees who voted unanimously to support Laffey if he runs.

Laffey did not commit to a run at the meeting, and he did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

December 17, 2009

A Voice in the Wilderness

Justin Katz

And then there's the wild card:

"Everyone involved should resign. Either they didn't know it would come to this, or they did and I'm not sure which is worse," said Laffey.

Sounding every bit like a candidate for Governor, Laffey said the state's political landscape is in need of a serious makeover. At a press conference to announce the appointment of a new economic development director late last week, talk centered on the need for everyone to "work together" to find solutions. Laffey, however, who didn't attend the event, suggested that the approach was misguided. Instead, he said the state needs reformers who are ready for a battle.

"The bottom line is we’re going to need somebody, or a group of people, to run for public office who will take the fight to the established political order, and by that I mean the public sector union leaders and the General Assembly," said Laffey. "There needs to be a direct fight ... and unless we do that, we'll continue on the road to collapse."

December 11, 2009

Re: Rory Smith Backs Out

Justin Katz

Here's the full statement:

After spending the last few months considering a run for Governor, I have decided to suspend my campaign and return all campaign contributions. While I am deeply appreciative of the support of those who know me well, I have come to the conclusion that as a newcomer to politics, my limited political experience and political network in Rhode Island will keep me from running a fully competitive campaign. I am still concerned about the critical issues facing our State and hope to use my knowledge and experience to make Rhode Island a better place both now and in the future.

I would like to especially thank Republican Party Chairman Giovanni Cicione for his encouragement and leadership. He has been a strong and skilled voice for the Rhode Island Republican Party, and he will have my support as he continues to grow and strengthen the Party in the years ahead.

Rory Smith Backs Out of GOP Governor Race

Marc Comtois

As first heard (by me, at least) on Dan Yorke's show, GOP naif Rory Smith has decided against running for Governor of Rhode Island and has suspended his campaign. Learning curve was too steep (hey, I understand!).

Though Rep. Joe Trillo indicated that a "lurking Laffey" had nothing to do with Smith's decision...we shall see.

December 10, 2009

Caprio on Abortion

Justin Katz

Not to pick on gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio, but he's been providing a lot of material, lately, such as the following, from Ed Fitzpatrick's recent column about the politician's experience as an unwed teenage father:

Did that experience inform his views on abortion? "I'm pro-choice because of all the experiences I've had in my life and the fact that I believe the individual has the right to make the decision," he said. "Each person can, in my view, be free to make their own choice. I know what choice I made and my girlfriend made, and others are free to make whatever choice they want to make."

One wonders what other circumstances Mr. Caprio believes give people the right to choose to kill. A crying newborn, perhaps? An ailing parent currently unconscious in a hospital bed? The Roman Catholic Church, to which he and I are both adherents, is unequivocal in its conclusion that life begins at conception and ends at natural death — full life, with no adjustments for "personhood" as a presumed state of being or socio-legal construct — and that the life of every human being ought to be protected. Caprio is free to take the position that his faith is a private matter, but if he wishes to be governor, he'll need to persuade Rhode Islanders that his judgment is sound, and reconciling his stated religious foundation with a right to kill is certainly relevant.

It's wonderful that Frank chose life when he had a direct role in making the decision, but how can he possibly look at his daughter through the eyes of a Catholic believer and still insist that his teenage girlfriend should have had the right to snuff out the life in her control for no reason but the inconvenience of motherhood?

December 8, 2009

Caprio Goes Left for Primary... Harms Campaign (?)

Justin Katz

The assumption — especially when gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio was attending every right-of-center event, shaking hands and touting his number 5 ranking on our right-of-center list — has been that he held the advantage for the general election but might not make it through the Democrat primary. Success at pulling off the dodge-left, run-center maneuver, though, depends on the manner in which it is performed, and in a sense, enabling everybody to believe that, fundamentally, you're on their side. His Drinking Liberally performance certainly constitutes a misstep, from where I sit.

One expects a candidate to emerge a bit bloodied after primary season, but shifts in character ought to be avoided. In courting the progressives, for example, it's several steps too far to join them in taking cheap shots at the outgoing Republican governor.

Picking an issue, back when Anchor Rising met with Caprio in his capacity as General Treasurer, last year, his response to my question about social concerns was that he wasn't going "advocate either" abortion or same-sex marriage. Asked about the latter in a roomful of progressives, his answer was "let's make it law."

To clarify the treasurer's statement, I emailed his campaign staff to ask: "Is it Mr. Caprio's position that same-sex marriage should be made law in Rhode Island?" The answer: "Yes."

Perhaps it's a fine line of nuance between "I won't stand in the way" if other people push for same-sex marriage and a stated policy that it should happen, but if so, it ought to be a step too far for those who believe that marriage is inherently a relationship between a man and a woman. With Caprio's previous stance, one might expect that a large enough constituency could introduce the possibility of a gubernatorial veto. Now, such a veto would represent a reneged promise. Moreover, the privately opposed/publicly ambivalent evasion requires that one actually be, you know, ambivalent.

A second question that I directed to Caprio's campaign has to do with this odd concept, from the Ed Fitzpatrick column linked above:

During a question-and-answer period, Matt Jerzyk (a lawyer and former editor of the liberal Web site RIFuture.org) told Caprio, "You have been one of the most outspoken advocates for tax breaks for the richest of the rich in Rhode Island" while "the middle class is being squeezed and squeezed" by rising health-care, tuition and housing costs.

Caprio said, "You are referencing comments I had made over a long career in public service. When times are good, we have the ability to make changes, to make our state more competitive. When times aren't good, like we have now, we need to have targeted incentives that are going to create jobs — period — before we do any other tax changes."

My question to the candidate, and his staff's answer:

I'm a bit confused about whether Treasurer Caprio believes that such policies as eliminating the capital gains tax and offering a flat tax help the state's economy and create jobs. What's the distinction between "making our state more competitive" and offering "targeted incentives that are going to create jobs"?

Tax policy and business climate are important factors in creating jobs. While in the long term Rhode Island needs to adopt tax policies that distinguish Rhode Island from its peers, right now, in the short term, we need to focus on target incentives that help the 35-thousand small business owners to retain and create jobs. Mr. Caprio has met with and listened to over 500 small business owners , and engaged 1000 Rhode Islanders at Planforri.org . Throughout this process, he has heard that businesses are struggling with employment taxes and expenses, and that is where he remains focused on having targeted incentives for companies to retain and add additional employees.

It may take a moment to process the practical implications of this position, but in essence, Caprio is saying that creating a tax environment that would be attractive to the sorts of folks who build and invest in businesses — as well as the top talent whom they would seek to employ — is a long-term project that should be abandoned in favor of restrictive tax breaks contrived by politicians, for short-term boosts. It's a curious suggestion. Even economic conservatives will disagree with each other about the optimal shape of tax incentives for economically productive people purchased with limited political will, but Caprio's shift undermines the incentives he claims to desire.

Employers don't tend to hire full-time, long-term employees for the duration of a recession (that's why unemployment goes up), so either the tax breaks will have to be perpetual or (more likely) the business leaders will be wary of their evaporation once they've already committed to employees. On the other side, what could possibly be the long-term incentive for improvements to high-end income tax burden if the investments that one has made in expectation of capital gains savings or a flat-tax calculation are apt to dry up just when the economy sours and the additional resources would be most needed? And if the wealthy have less money to spend and invest when tax cuts disappear, where are businesses going to find the resources to hire more employees?

Personally, I think we ought to respond to Rhode Island's collapsing economy by throwing every incentive conceivable at the problem. That would include, of course, erasure of mandates and adjustment of regulations, which needn't cost the state a dime. The point is that Caprio's own adjustments appear to depend upon political circumstances.

The last point on which I sought clarification related to education funding:

Caprio said, "You want to talk about property taxes — what we need is a fair and equitable school-funding formula." To applause, he said, "In my first 100 days during my administration, we will pass a fair and adequate school-funding formula that will put the resources into the school districts that deserve it."

As you can see, I got a non-answer on my follow-up:

Which districts "deserve" the larger share of the school-funding pie via a "fair and adequate school-funding formula"?

As the only state in the nation without a school funding formula, Mr. Caprio is committed to adopting and implementing a school funding formula that increases the predictability of school funding and aligns the incentives for districts to be run more efficiently.

In other words, the campaign doesn't want to admit that they'd take tax dollars from the suburbs and transfer them to the urban districts, essentially taxing and spending without direct representation.

In summary, according to primary-season rhetoric — to which I, for one, intend to hold Mr. Caprio — moving the general treasurer to the governor's office would put the entire state in the hands of a single party and a politically dynastic heir who isn't willing to challenge the dangerous preconceptions of an economically illiterate population and aristocracy, and who would rubber stamp the social wish list of the left.

If that's what we're going to get with Caprio, I have to say that I think Chafee would at least be more fun to watch.

December 4, 2009

RI Monthly on the Governor's Race

Carroll Andrew Morse

Ian Donnis of WRNI radio's (1290 AM) On Politics Blog points to Mark Arsenault's story on the Rhode Island Governor's race appearing in December's Rhode Island Monthly. To pick out just a few of the many items of note that appear in the article…

  1. Donnis, in his link to the article, highlights speculation coming from Lincoln Chafee that Steve Laffey will run as an independent…
    [Steve Laffey] has maintained radio silence on the governor’s race, though he tells me he’s furious about the state of the state.

    Chafee, for one, expects his old rival will forego the party system and also run for governor as an independent.

  2. Chafee, Rhode Island's undeclared independent candidate for Governor, describes the coalition he seeks to build upon…
    In addition to the name, Linc Chafee, a former mayor of Warwick, has his own political base. “For me, it’s a mix of environmentalists, Warwick voters, anti-war people, progressive Republicans,” he says. “I’m not an enemy to labor. I’d like to have labor on my side as much as possible.”
    Would anyone who continues to insist that Chafee is a "moderate" and not a "liberal", where "moderate" is used as a stand-in for "fiscally conservative" and "socially liberal", care to explain where the support for "fiscal conservatism" is going to come from, given that base?
  3. With the caveat that we can't be sure exactly when Arsenault conducted his interview (always an issue with a monthly publication), Arlene Violet is mentioned in the article as a possible candidate for the Moderate Party, but…
    Violet would be a reluctant contender. “I prefer to try to build that effort and let someone younger run,” says Violet, who is sixty-five.

    If the Moderates can’t find another credible warrior, “That would certainly put a lot of pressure on me,” Violet says. “I wouldn’t do it just to get 5 percent. I’d do it to win.”

    Does that sound like someone whose party's candidate-search is going well?
There's some stuff on the major party candidates too, all of which Arsenault writes-up in a very engaging manner. Maybe a local newspaper should consider hiring him to jazz-up its political coverage…

November 12, 2009

Trillo Almost Officially Out, But Not Yet Backing Smith

Carroll Andrew Morse

Russell J. Moore's story in Tuesday's Warwick Beacon about State Representative Joseph Trillo's almost final departure from the Governor's race contains a number of interesting details.

  1. Asked if he was endorsing not-yet-official Republican candidate Rory Smith…
    Trillo said he wasn’t prepared to make an endorsement in the race just yet, despite the fact that East Greenwich businessman Rory Smith has jumped head first into the race.

    “I’ve heard a lot of good things about Smith, but it’s still too early for me to make up my mind at this point,” said Trillo.

  2. Rep. Trillo also says that because he was never sure that he would run, he never engaged in any serious fundraising -- and that other candidates unsure if they are running shouldn't be raising money under gubernatorial pretenses either…
    Trillo criticized Providence Mayor David Cicilline and Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts, both of which he said raised money under the guise of running for governor only to pull out of the race.

    “They should have to give back their donations,” said Trillo.

  3. The article also has information on a recent staffing announcement made by probable Republican candidate Rory Smith (begging the question of whether a "probable" candidate can have a staff, but there seems to be no avoiding this in the 2010 Rhode Island gubernatorial election)…
    Smith…found time to issue a press release saying that he’s hired professional campaign consultants and a national polling firm. The Norway Hill Consulting Firm, a Massachusetts-based firm led by David Carney, the political director under George H. W. Bush. Smith also hired The Tarrance Group as his pollsters.

    Dave Sackett, who will serve as Smith’s lead pollster, said in a press release, “people are looking for new ideas and new ways to approach the problems that we face. As someone who isn’t beholden to the special interests, Rory will bring a fresh perspective to state government.”

November 10, 2009

Caprio Confirms (But Doesn't Announce)

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to a Steve Peoples article in today's Projo, General Treasurer Frank Caprio is now officially a candidate for Rhode Island Governor…

Ending months of speculation, General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio on Monday confirmed that he intends to run for governor in 2010, joining a field of political heavyweights that already includes a former U.S. senator and the state attorney general…
…though his formal announcement won't come until next year…
His campaign will spend $100,000 this month to run political advertisements on every major television network beginning Tuesday.

“This is preparation of a formal announcement during the first quarter of 2010,”

November 5, 2009

Holding Court in RI

Justin Katz

Matt and I talked about my Providence Monthly piece on last night's Matt Allen Show. Stream by clicking here, or download it.

November 4, 2009

Which Democrat Will Have the Last Gubernatorial Laugh?

Justin Katz

This piece was originally published in abbreviated form (PDF) in the November 2009 issue of Providence Monthly magazine.

Amidst the banquet of public power in Rhode Island, the term-limited governor stands mainly as a jester for activists to mock and insiders to blame. When their excess begets indigestion, angry lips shout his name. When indigestion begets offensive odors, the guilty gaseous point his way and giggle. And when, at last, the half-digested hopes of Rhode Islanders splatter upon the floor, he finds himself with mop in hand.

The General Assembly dominates state government, and it would be an understatement to say that the Democrat Party dominates it. Not excessively remunerated for their responsibility, the body consists of part-time political dabblers who seek office out of some mixture of ego, self-dealing intentions, political ambition, and (of course) genuine desire to serve their communities. Most of their constituents do not know who they are or what they do, with isolated exceptions related to narrow local issues, the occasional "legislative grant" (buying a smiling picture in the local paper for the price of a few grand in state taxpayer money), and the warm greeting on chilly community soccer-league evenings.

Absorbing the angst that inevitably bubbles up under government authority are various unelected groups that insert personal judgment into matters that might otherwise be determined by rule of law. The network of quasi-judicial acronyms (CRMC, LRB, DEM, DOE, and so on) doubles as a conduit for political reward and influence and the plumbing whereby sources of voter discontent may be diffused, keeping the focus off those who make the law.

The most intractable difficulties drain into the state's judiciary, whose edicts define subsequent law without risking direct voter response. Like legislators, judges have no constitutional limits on their time in office, with the exception being "magistrates," whose appointments can be more political. Politics also leave their mark with the General Assembly's allocation for the judiciary's budget and the inclusion of familiar names on staff rosters.

Over all of this preside the House speaker, the Senate president, and the majority leaders in both chambers, who guide the festivities by means of procedure and largess. Each representative and senator votes and proposes legislation, but the leaders may push them into the circular file of "further study" on a whim, controlling legislators by allowing or disallowing pet bills and by dolling out the tiny aforementioned grants.

While constituents on the street remain largely oblivious, segments of them collect under the Democrat umbrella and maintain a close watch on the fealty of individual legislators:

  • Government insiders, party insiders, and all of those who live and die by a political system that regular folks have trouble taking seriously have obvious reason to keep a keen eye on local players.
  • Special interests reliant on the kindly feelings of lawmakers — notably unions and the social-service industry — have money and manpower to spread around the public square.
  • Progressive ideologues are wholly comfortable working with both of the above, as long as they can inch the state toward an experiment in their utopia.

From the perspective of the right-wing reformer, therefore, the most valuable use of the governor's office would be to turn the jester's performance into a cutting commentary against the assorted nobles of Rhode Island government. With the legislature's edicts chained to one leg and its budget to the other, while judicial manacles bind his hands, the governor has no weapon but his voice.

Neither of the remaining contenders for the Democrats' slot on the ballot is likely to do the rabble's rousing, and the intriguing, potentially differentiating question is to where the fingers will point when the scapegoat is no longer a Republican Other.

General Treasurer Frank Caprio has been a political insider his entire adult life, and his public persona is hardly characterized by an inclination to cause waves for special interests. The progressive contingent, however, has watched with suspicion as he's mingled with the enemy, represented by groups like the Ocean State Policy Research Institute, the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition, and Operation Clean Government. He ranked number 5 on Anchor Rising's Spring 2009 list of the Top 10 Right-of-Center Rhode Islanders.

His broad appeal — manifesting in his current fundraising lead — make his chances good for general election victory. As governor, he may stand strong against tax increases, and he's certainly perceived as a friend to Rhode Island businesses, but these positive attributes may serve primarily to place him (and them) on the defensive, even as the General Assembly persists in its fiscally deadly habits. The progressives will also strive to tangle him up in the tug-of-war over social issues, in which he's been reluctant to participate.

That's less of a problem for Attorney General Patrick Lynch, who is proficient in all of the soothing courtship calls of the Democrat-labor-Left coalition, which may provide an edge during primary season. Once in office, he'll likely evince comfort with progressives' agenda (where convenient) and work with his fellow Democrats to spread tissue paper over the state's cracking foundation. With those assumptions, we can expect Lynch to toss the governor's motley joker hat out of the room, to the state's conservative minority (including the religious), national right-wingers, and "greedy" businessmen.

If former Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey was correct, when he withdrew from the state and from speculative candidacy, that Rhode Islanders simply do not want to bring the feast to an end, then his opponent in the last Republican U.S. Senate primaries will prove to have the perfect head for that three-belled cap. Lincoln Chafee is an "independent" still bearing the stain of his years as a nominal Republican. His pretentions toward fiscal conservatism will make a target of free-market and small-government principles, even as his actual liberalism clears the way for increasing burdens on taxpayers and businesses and facilitates a drunken lurch toward the libertine left in the dark hours of apocalyptic night.

In any case, conservatives might find new liberty in lacking an ally in the hall of power; we'll be free to venture out and rebuild the kingdom from the frontiers in.

November 2, 2009

FLASH: Corrente Not Running for Governor

Marc Comtois

Former U.S. Attorney for RI Robert Corrente told WPRO's Dan Yorke that he will not run for RI Governor in 2010. He confirmed that he did speak to the Moderate Party but ultimately determined that the timing wasn't right.

October 30, 2009

Providence Monthly: Katz and Jerzyk on Governor's Race

Marc Comtois

Anchor Rising's Justin Katz and Matt Jerzyk (former proprietor of RI Future) were asked by the Providence Monthly to handicap the presumed 2010 Rhode Island gubernatorial candidates. But there was a twist: Justin took a look at the Dems (and Chafee) and Matt looked at the GOP (and Chafee).

Matt has helpfully provided links to each piece (thanks Matt). HERE is Matt's piece on the Republicans and HERE is Justin's take on the Democrats.

October 23, 2009

The Scoop You May Have Missed from the Comments Section (or Corrente in the Running for Running with Moderate Party)

Carroll Andrew Morse

Before Steve Peoples of the Projo, or Tim White of WPRI-TV (CBS 12), or the Associated Press, commenter Mike Cappelli had it first…

Funny how things happen. I'm in line at a coffee shop this morning and a group of people are saying the Moderate Party candidate is Robert Corrente.
However, according to the WPRI story, potential candidate Corrente and the Moderate Party are far from sealing the deal…
Robert Corrente, the former federal prosecutor who made a name in fighting political corruption in Rhode Island, met this morning with members of the newly formed Moderate party for a potential run for governor…

[Moderate Party Executive Director Christine Hunsinger] tells Eyewitness News the party is in talks with “more than six people” for a potential bid for governor.
Corrente's possible entrance into the RI gubernatorial field was also noted in a web publication called Main Justice, which ended on this interesting paragraph…
Also of note is attorney Bob Healey Jr., who is running on the Cool Moose ticket. According to the party platform posted on Healey’s Web site, the Cool Moose party stands for “as limited a government intrusion into private life as possible.”
…raising the question of how many more candidates entering the race it would take to give Healey an actual shot at winning. (Note: According to a Projo news item from July, Healey says he's leaning against a gubernatorial bid).

October 22, 2009

Last Word on Smith... From Me... For Today

Justin Katz

Here's my bottom line: Under no circumstances will I support or vote for any Republican candidate who would enter the State House in any more mild a manner than with figurative guns blazing. It isn't sufficient to correctly identify the state's problems and offer a plan that would probably fix them. A candidate for governor must declare whose heads he or she will knock and whom he or she will chain to the ship so that they'll be sure to go down with it.

A style of Republican such as Smith threatens to be will fail to enact his plan (with failure inversely proportional to the degree that it would actually work), spread the blame for that failure to the powerless party, and let all of those "less important" issues about which conservatives care tilt to the progressive winds. I also question the wisdom, as a political matter; commenter Rhody offered the following earlier today:

I'm torn. On one hand, Rory's got a raging sense of entitlement, but on the other, he's not Phil Leotardo like the currently presiding CEO from EG.

And if it lessens the chance we'll ever have to utter the words "Governor Laffey," it's all good.

Not so fast. It's conceivable that, if both Chafee and Laffey were to run as independents of some kind, the latter would be the only conservative in a field with four shades of liberal (Democrat, Moderate, Chafee, Smith). The tea party wing of the Rhode Island right may not be that big, but it could be decisive in such a race, especially if suffering Rhode Islanders of all political stripes are in the mood to make a protest vote.

The Moderate Party Should Woo Rory Smith

Justin Katz

Those who suggested that Monday was too early for Dan Yorke to be writing off Rory Smith may have been correct, but, well, it's Thursday, and I'm inclined to sign on with Dan's point of view. If you haven't heard the interview between the two men, from last night, it's a must-listen Podcast. Achingly clear is that Smith wants to choreograph every release and every statement, and while Dan complains mainly that such political rote isn't appropriate in a time of crisis, I think that's precisely why Smith and his advisers are so adamant about the strategy: They want a chance to charm a sufficient percentage of the center-right electorate before we're able to discern that Smith isn't really the sort of Republican whom most of us know we need, and without whom we might as well let the Democrats take the full credit for the state's final collapse.

Dan pushed and pushed to get any indication from Smith about his positions on, well, anything, even a general approach to addressing the state's core economic problems. Smith essentially described the problem itself — which is so obvious that it's nearly a tautology to define it — and promised to roll out his plan over the coming "weeks and months." When finally Dan's exasperation must have finally filled the room to a suffocating pressure, asking "what sort of Republican are you," Smith's answer was: "I'm the sort of Republican who can win in this region."

I think readers of Anchor Rising know what that means in our state's political dialect. He supported Chafee over Laffey. Providence Journal reporter Randal Edgar pinned him down as somebody who "supports abortion rights [and] civil unions between homosexuals." (Yeah, the article adds opposition to binding arbitration to the list, but Smith would be driven into the bay if he'd not taken that side.) In short, Smith is from that wing of the RIGOP meeting most frequently at the nearest golf course to discuss how they and all their friends agree that Republicans lose because they're not liberal enough on everything but some basic economic matters.

Smith declares himself to be the sole "outsider" in the race and, I'll tell you, he really isn't going to sell that branding. He's in the club, even if he hasn't yet played the politics table. If he were a true outsider, he wouldn't be able to restrain himself from giving direct answers at least to a general thrust of his solution to the state's catastrophic problems. And then there's this:

I did something crazy. I entered an iron man triathlon about a year ago... I didn't know if I was going to be able to finish the race, but I believed that I could, and I've learned in life believing is a lot more powerful than knowing. ... When I signed up, I had never run a race longer than five miles; I'd never been a biker or a swimmer. I had to learn how to swim and how to bike, and over the course of about 360 days, training two to eight hours a day, I finished in the top third of all racers.

Three hundred and sixty days of intensive training is not something that many folks who work full time and longer every week — some of them at jobs that ravage their bodies — are able to do. Finishing a triathlon is an achievement, no doubt, as would be winning the governor's seat, but outsiders don't enter into such things as personal challenges so much as desperate statements.

Mr. Smith Goes to Providence?

Marc Comtois

Riordan Smith has filed papers as the first official candidate for the Governor's race in 2010. The ProJo and Ian Donnis at WRNI have more info. Smith was also all over the radio yesterday and today explaining his personal background (small-business owner, married with 3 kids, lives in East Greenwich, ran the Iron Man) and, to a much vaguer extent, his political.

Smith said that fixing the state’s economy and budget woes will mean cutting spending and making the state’s tax structure more competitive. He said that includes cutting taxes on the wealthy, if Rhode Island is taxing more than other states.

He did not offer specifics on how the state could cut spending when it faces massive budget deficits, saying he was only launching his campaign and would offer details in the coming weeks and months. But he did say that Rhode Island spends more per-capita than other New England states on areas such as education and health and human services.

“We have enough money,” he said. “It’s a question of how we spend it.”

That's a broad view, to be sure. We also know he donated to David Cicilline and he told Dan Yorke he voted for Lincoln Chafee (over Steve Laffey) in the 2006 GOP Senatorial primary. His reason was that he thought Chafee was more electable. Well, there's probably more to it than that. Like Chafee, Smith is pro-choice and, reading between the lines, it seems Smith had problems with aspects of social conservatism in general. He didn't come out and say so, but he did disaffiliate to become an independent in 2006, explaining that he did so because of the direction the national GOP was taking. (That's generally code for, "I didn't like Bush, especially his social politics").

My impression is that, while Smith truly seems to be just getting his act together, he may be only a shade or two away from Frank Caprio on the ideological spectrum. If that turns out to be true, he won't offer a compelling option to just giving the state's Democratic Party the whole shebang in 2010, which would at least remove the convenient scapegoating of "insert-powerless-GOP-governor's-name-here" to which we've become accustomed.

October 21, 2009

Rory's Next Step

Justin Katz

Monday's radio and blog sturm und drang seems not to have dissuaded Mr. Smith from the road to Providence. This just in:

Today Rory Smith filed a "Notice of Organization" with the Rhode Island Board of Elections, forming a candidate committee in order to begin the process of organizing a campaign for Governor.

"We need to put Rhode Islanders back to work. We cannot continue with business as usual in state government and expect to fix the problems we face. It is time for fresh ideas and a new perspective. I want to be that new voice," said Smith.

Smith, a founding partner of Providence based business Nautic Partners LLC, is a first time candidate for public office.

"I've spent my career providing businesses with the capital, tools, and leadership required to grow and prosper even through difficult economic times. I want to use that experience to help grow Rhode Island's economy and create jobs," continued Smith.

The father of three, Smith cares deeply about the future of Rhode Island. He and his wife Betsy are very involved in their community through their church, youth sports, and local charities.

"I love Rhode Island. It is a great place to live and raise a family. I want to work to make sure that Rhode Island is a place that my children can get a first-class education, find a good job, and raise children of their own," concluded Smith.

October 19, 2009

Moderating Expectations

Carroll Andrew Morse

I heard Rhode Island Moderate Party Chairman Ken Block on WPRO (630 AM) with John DePetro earlier this morning, discussing how he believes a "fresh face" may be the best option for a Moderate candidate for Rhode Island governor.

Sounds like the Moderate party's talks with that "prominent former public official", whoever he or she was, didn't end very well.

October 14, 2009

Moderately Mysterious

Carroll Andrew Morse

Alright, I'll take the bait that's dangling from Steve Peoples' gubernatorial race preview appearing in today's Projo

Moderate Party Chairwoman Christine Hunsinger confirmed last week that her organization was courting a “prominent former public official” aside from oft-discussed former Republican Attorney General Arlene Violet to represent her fledgling party.
How many "prominent" former officials are there in Rhode Island to choose from? I can think of three people off of the top of my head who have either run for or held statewide office that might described as “prominent former public officials”: Robert Weygand (former Lt. Governor, could fit the bill as a "moderate" Democrat, was occasionally mentioned as having gubernatorial aspirations very early in this cycle), Anthony Antonio Pires (who I think was less Progressive than either Sheldon Whitehouse or Myrth York, and thus ran 3rd in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary) and Ron Machtley (former U.S. Congressman, could fit the bill as a "moderate" Republican, gave up his Congressional seat to run for governor in 1994).

Are there other names to add to the list?

October 8, 2009

Another Republican Candidate for Governor?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Cynthia Needham of the Projo has the first official gubernatorial-race interview with Rory Smith, the political newcomer with a possible interest in running as a Republican for Governor of Rhode Island…

Providence businessman Rory Smith says he's considering a run for Rhode Island governor in 2010 as a Republican.

"People have approached me about it and I'm certainly thinking about it, but I have not made any decisions yet," Smith said in a brief interview Wednesday afternoon.

The East Greenwich resident and self-described "outsider" said he has not set a deadline to make that decision and declined to discuss his potential candidacy in any detail.

September 25, 2009

Draft Joseph Peckham for Governor

Carroll Andrew Morse

In spite of the skepticism expressed by Justin earlier this week about the wisdom of drafting candidates for political office, I think progressive Rhode Island Democrats should consider a movement to draft AFSCME Council 94 Acting Executive Director Joseph Peckham as their candidate for Rhode Island's 2010 gubernatorial election.

As evidenced by Katherine Gregg's and Steve Peoples' story in yesterday's Projo, Mr. Peckham has become one of Rhode Island's most forthright spokesmen for the progressive view of how to solve state's continuing fiscal crisis…

“There are millions of dollars in outside attorneys, while the state employs almost 300 full-time attorneys. We think that’s wasteful. There are tens of millions of dollars in contracts. We think that’s wasteful. I think that the governor ... should look more to have government run the government, and not private contractors.

“I also think there are other ways of raising revenue in the form of certain types of taxes, taxes on the wealthy, capital gains taxes, and perhaps some other taxes that haven’t been talked about, luxury taxes.”

In other words, there's no fiscal problem facing Rhode Island government that raising taxes and reducing the number of non-union workers can't solve. Is there any significant part of the progressive fiscal agenda (other than maybe re-amortizing the pension system) that Mr. Peckham has missed? If not, progressives should be proud to back a candidate who will be willing to take their views unambiguously to the people, and an honest debate can begin!

However, in the absence of a movement to draft Mr. Peckham (just in case progressives don't think that a simple, direct statement of their views is a political winner), it would be interesting to know what the current favorite gubernatorial candidate of labor thinks of raising taxes and dumping non-union workers as being primary methods that should be used to close the state's budget deficit.

September 21, 2009

Vlog #7: Draft So-and-So

Justin Katz

Whether it's an off-season taste or the initiation of the 2010 election season on Anchor Rising time will tell, but my vlog this week concerns the practice of "drafting" candidates for office; specifically for governor:

September 18, 2009

Lincoln Chafee, the Labor Candidate for Governor?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Previewing this weekends Newsmakers show on WPRI-TV (CBS 12), Ian Donnis of WRNI's On Politics blog notes that George Nee, President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, currently believes that Lincoln Chafee is the gubernatorial candidate currently looked upon most favorably by labor…

Pressed about the three most evident gubernatorial candidates for 2010, Nee, acknowledged that labor has some concerns about Frank Caprio, hasn't interacted greatly with Patrick Lynch, and looks relatively warmly at Lincoln Chafee.
I wonder what Mr. Nee and other members of labor inclined to support a Chafee gubernatorial bid believe that his solutions to the state's continuing fiscal crisis would be.

August 25, 2009

Flanders Denies Any Interest in Running for Governor

Carroll Andrew Morse

Scott MacKay of WRNI's On Politics blog is reporting that Robert Flanders is denying any interest in running for Governor of Rhode Island, as a Republican, or a Moderate, or under any other party banner…

Flanders, a lawyer, says that he "has no intention'' of running and is focused on his legal practice and his post has chairman of the state Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education....Flanders also says he did not look forward to having to "raise the awful lot of money'' that a run for governor would entail.

July 16, 2009

Leadership Is Also About Timing

Justin Katz

Ah, Frank:

Breaking new ground in Rhode Island's top political ranks, General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio has made public his daily calendars for the last 18 months, a move that not only shows how and with whom he has spent his time in office, but also the number of days he spent traveling outside Rhode Island on both state and political business.

His daily schedules reflect a range of state, political and family commitments, from an "8:30 a.m. UN conference NYC," to a noon luncheon meeting described as "Lehman's/Capriccio" to "dinner with Gabriella & Frankie."

My impression of Rhode Island Treasurer Frank Caprio is that he's an unimpeachably honest guy, and he seems intent on running his campaign for governor in precisely the manner not only of an honest guy, but of an affable one: making up for the disadvantage of clean hands by keeping them in constant motion. During his ubiquitous appearances at state-level events of all sorts, Caprio is always the last to sit down — working the room, as they call it.

In that respect, he (or at least his image) is a welcome relief in a profession characterized by scheming and sleaze. The question is whether it makes him the man that Rhode Island needs in its top executive chair, just now, and his case has yet to be proven. He strikes me as the sort of leader a polity wants when it requires rest from the hard work of cleaning up government — after cleaning up the government. In those circumstances, the "right thing" has been clearly defined, and the society wants a chief who will apply it fairly and openly and recoil from immediate corruption.

Truthfulness is better than deception, of course, and straight laces better than knots. With Caprio, we can add in a better display of the correct impulses, compared with the erroneous ones of his likely competition. But that only makes him preferable — not adequate. What we need is not somebody who's affably honest, but somebody who's contentiously honest.

July 1, 2009

Roberts to Seek Re-election, Not Governorship

Justin Katz

At least, that's what I think the just-arrived press release indicates:

Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts announced today that she will seek re-election, pledging to use her position to make health care affordable for every Rhode Islander. ...

"I've spent the past few months exploring a run for governor, and I want to thank all of my supporters and let them know that I will continue to work to turn the page on politics as usual in Rhode Island," Roberts said. "I will continue to fight for quality health care for all; a stronger, more diverse Rhode Island economy; and honest, open and effective government. These have been, and will continue to be, the focus of my public service."

June 2, 2009

Widening the Field?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Is this Associated Press article (via the Boston Herald) talking about candidates for Governor, candidates for the general offices, or candidates in general?

Gov. Don Carcieri is a rare Republican governor in one of the bluest of blue states, a social and fiscal conservative who won re-election in 2006 even as fellow Republicans were swept from office.

It remains unclear who in the governor’s party, if anyone, will continue his political legacy….Republicans, however, are still searching for viable candidates, even as they hope to continue their hold on the governor’s office. So far, only Rep. Joseph Trillo of Warwick, a public access TV host best known for his outbursts, has publicly announced he’s considering a run....

Republican leaders including [Party Chairman Gio Cicione], Trillo, former state Rep. Carol Mumford and others met as recently as Tuesday to continue searching for additional candidates. Although the group has not divulged names under discussion, some are people who have approached the party while others would be newcomers to politics.

Given the context of the article, which is all about the governor's race, the answer would be candidates for governor -- except that it seems a tad strange for the party's only declared candidate for governor to be on a committee actively seeking other candidates.

May 4, 2009

Will Ricci: Reaction to Endorsements of Linc Chafee for RI Governor

Engaged Citizen

You will rarely, if ever, find me in 100% agreement with a press statement on behalf of the Rhode Island Democratic Party regarding anything, so savor the moment.

That a freshman Democratic legislator has endorsed a possible candidate for political office who is not a member of his own party, for an election which won't occur until November 2010, means less than zero in the grand scheme of anything political. If anything, it actually shows that there is neither broad, nor deep support for someone who may or may not be a candidate for governor in 2010. Given Linc Chafee's past record, I absolutely assume that, at some point, he will make up his mind and be a real candidate for governor. I certainly don't think he will win, but that's beside the point. Rather, I am more concerned about a politician who has been at the game for quite a while and who should know better.

Of course, my concern is in regard to the very premature endorsement of Linc Chafee for RI governor made by "Republican" Mayor of Warwick Scott Avedesian. Scott is widely presumed to be interested in seeking a higher office in 2010, so perhaps this is a strategic decision on his part, or perhaps it is purely personal. Scott can perhaps be forgiven his transgression on the basis of their longtime friendship. Of course, they both share nearly identical left-of-center political ideologies that are not within the mainstream of what is generally considered "conservative" or even "Republican."

However, any political party — in this case, the Rhode Island Republican Party — is supposed to stand for something, is supposed to believe something, and this honestly deserves a timely response by it. I would certainly think that any potential Republican candidates for governor, including the one who also hails from Warwick, must feel a certain sense of betrayal. However, I honestly doubt that anyone is actually surprised by this act.

Regardless of the motivation behind Scott's endorsement, I would sincerely hope for a similarly worded statement by an official representative of the Rhode Island Republican Party. Given our past record as a state party — and its precarious state at present — I am not exactly holding my breath. There are any number of reasons to expect neither talk, nor action, including but not limited to the fact that the RIGOP headquarters in Warwick is in the very same building as Scott Avedesian's campaign headquarters and that the only remaining member of the RIGOP office staff formerly worked for Linc Chafee when he was in the U.S. Senate. These should not be obstacles to action, but rather inconveniences.

As a longtime member, I've come to expect little from the party, and my expectations are almost always exceeded in a bad way. I want the party to succeed — if I didn't, I wouldn't have been involved in it for so long — but it isn't going to succeed at anything if it doesn't stand up for even the most basic of Republican principles.

Despite that, I still hold out a tiny glimmer of hope the party will act. Paging Gio...

The RI Democrats' statement to the press read in part:

"I wasn't surprised to see that Rep. Fierro was sitting alone when he announced his decision to support former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee. I would have advised Rep. Fierro to have considered Senator Chafee's record before so hastily and haphazardly announcing support for a candidate, who for so long embraced the ideals of the Republican Party, but who has suddenly labeled himself an 'independent' because he finds it politically expedient. If Chris had a little more gravitas and experience I believe he would have ultimately made a better and more well-informed decision. Much like his endorsed candidate, I wouldn't be surprised if Rep. Fierro changed his mind a few more times before the election. If Chris Fierro endorses a former Republican candidate in the middle of the woods and nobody cares, did it ever really happen?" [Democratic Party executive director Tim] Grilo said.

While I don't believe that I have heard or seen anywhere where Mayor Scott Avedesian has literally said the exact words "I endorse Linc Chafee for Governor," he has done everything humanly possible to demonstrate strong support of his candidacy, including but not limited to being a prominent member of the host committee for Linc's upcoming "exploratory committee" fundraiser. Whether the RIGOP manages even a mild correction remains to be seen.

Will Ricci is a Delegate of the Rhode Island Republican State Central Committee, a Director of the Rhode Island Republican Assembly, and the Editor of The Ocean State Republican blog.

April 29, 2009

Officially, He is Not Officially Running for Governor

Carroll Andrew Morse

Former Senator Lincoln Chafee claims that he has not yet officially begun his gubernatorial campaign.

Someone needs to let his web-team know this, because this is what the masthead of the Chafee for Governor website reads as of 3:00 pm today…

Lincoln Chafee: Independent Candidate for Rhode Island Governor
But the most important question comes from the line immediately below the masthead…
Rhode Island needs a bold new direction.
Is a "bold new direction" meant to imply that a Governor Chafee will work on advancing something like true pension reform, or something like a crushing tax increase? Knowing the answer to that question is much more important than knowing whether the current state of the campaign is official or unofficial.

April 28, 2009

Chafee Makes It Official

Carroll Andrew Morse

Richard C. Dujardin of the Projo reports...

Ending several weeks of “exploration” into whether he would run for the job, former U.S. Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee announced Tuesday night that he is an independent candidate for governor of Rhode Island.

Chafee put the news out on a Web site, www.chafeeforgovernor.com, as well as in an interview on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show.

April 13, 2009

Yeah. The Candidate of "Fiscal Responsibility"

Justin Katz

All one needs to know about Lincoln Chafee and his pending run for governor (including his status as a garden-variety left-wing Democrat) is revealed in this:

The Republican-turned-Independent Chafee has been out and about seeking support from George Nee, secretary-treasurer of the state AFL-CIO, among others. Late last week, Nee said he had lunch with Chafee six or seven weeks ago and told him that a year and a half out is way too early to make a commitment to anyone. But, Nee said, "I think that Linc Chafee has had a very good record with the labor community and I think he would be given very, very serious and respectful consideration."

He can run or not, as far as I'm concerned, but I'm not so sure that the common wisdom that he'd split the Republican vote is accurate. At best, he'll split both parties, but I imagine he'd cost the Democrats more, especially if they run a candidate who pleases the state's progressives.

March 5, 2009

Laffey WILL NOT Run for Governor in 2010

Marc Comtois

Former Cranston Mayor and Senate Candidate Stephen Laffey has announced that he will NOT run for Governor of the State of Rhode Island in 2010. More coming on WPRO's Dan Yorke show shortly.

Laffey spoke to Dan Yorke and elaborated on the reasons why he chose not to run. He stated he based his decision on a few factors. First, he clarified that his decision leaked out before he had been fully prepared to discuss it. He then stated that for the last two years, he's been out of politics and has enjoyed being with his family. However, the primary reason is that, as he sees it, there still isn't a real, broad-based movement striving to improve RI State Government and the current way of doing business (budgets, pensions, reforms, etc.). Therefore, he has concluded that not enough people want to really fix things yet and that a few people here and there, including himself, aren't enough to effect real change without broad support. Basically, he thinks that more Rhode Islanders need to wake up before the effort of individuals like himself will be able to do any real good.

It seems his thinking was affected by the recent elections where some good candidates were run on the GOP side and still lost. He also offered that, in his opinion, the GOP (both the state and national) "is a disaster." He was also influenced by seeing his work in Cranston undone over the last two years (presumably, until the election of Alan Fung). There is also, obviously, some disenchantment with the national party's role in his own Senatorial election. He also stated that he did no polling or the like that could have influenced his decision.

In short, Stephen Laffey has given up on Rhode Island...for now.