Scott MacKay

Political Analyst

With a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Vermont and a wealth of knowledge of local politics, it was a given that Scott MacKay would become a commentator for Rhode Island Public Radio's Political Roundtable.

As a former political reporter for The Providence Journal, MacKay has spent more than thirty years documenting the ins and outs of politics in Rhode Island and New England. MacKay is married to Dr. Staci Fisher, an infectious diseases specialist.

Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScotMackRI

Ways to Connect

The days are dwindling in the most caustic and presidential campaign in modern history. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if  we can learn some lessons. (Advance copy of commentary to air Monday).

In the twilight of the most unenlightening campaign anyone can remember, we can dwell on the many mistakes. Or we can look for lessons. Democrats and  Republicans and can learn an awful  lot.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Another month, another poor jobs report in Rhode Island. The September unemployment rate remained at 5.6 percent, but Rhode Island-based jobs were down 900 from August, according to data released today by the state Department of Labor and Training.

The data show job losses in educational services, health care and social assistance, ambulatory health care services and government and professional services.  There were also smaller job declines in manufacturing, information and transportation and utilities.


Rhode Island voters support all five spending bond issues on the November general election ballot but do not think the state is headed in the right direction, according to results of a public opinion survey conducted by the Hassenfeld  Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University.

The poll, done by Fleming and Associates, sampled 400 state voters by telephone between October 6th and 10th. It carries an error margin of about 5 percent and included 52 percent landlines and 48 percent mobile phones.


Our Rhody Votes 2016 coverage continues, with a look at Ballot Question 2, the Rhode Island Ethics Commission Amendment. It asks voters whether to restore the Commission’s jurisdiction over General Assembly members. 

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Politicians love to say that elections matter. Except when some of them don’t like the results. RIPR Political analyst Scott MacKay wonders why two veteran Democratic lawmakers won’t accept their primary defeats.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island House Majority Leader John DeSimone, D-Providence, who was narrowly defeated in the September primary, is announcing tomorrow that he is mounting a November general election write-in challenge to the political newcomer who defeated him in the primary, Marcia Ranglin-Vassell.

John Bender / RIPR

In an election season with few contested Rhode Island races, there is one General Assembly campaign getting lots of attention. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on why all eyes are on a House campaign in the western corner of Cranston.

How Providence is working to get more kids to school every day; and what happened to the $75 million Rhode Island spent in federal Race to theTop funding?  Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison looks for answers from Providence Superintendent of Schools Chris Maher on our weekly Bonus Q&A. Political reporter Ian Donnis returns next week.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Analysis by Rhode Island Public Radio finds urban and middle class students in Rhode Island have lower test scores than their peers in Massachusetts; and the state’s ambitious goal to improve 3rd grade reading skills in less than a decade. We discuss the top issues in public education on a special education edition of our weekly political roundtable. 

Tommy Japan / flickr / Creative Commons License

Ever wonder why presidential candidates should release their tax returns? RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay offers some views from a distinctly Rhode Island perspective.

Major Thomas Verdi, a 29-year veteran of the Providence police department, has been named deputy chief by Col. Hugh Clements, police chief.

Verdi takes the post vacated by former Deputy Chief Thomas Oates, who has become police chief in Woonsocket.

Verdi has recently served as commanding officer of the uniform division. He has also been executive officer of the administrative division and has many years  experience as a detective, an organized crime investigator, in the patrol bureau and in SWAT operations.

The first televised debate in the presidential election is Monday evening. There will be just two candidates on stage, Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. 

Courtesy of the Shelton family

Henry Shelton, a Roman Catholic priest turned social justice and political activist, longtime voice in Rhode Island for those who had none, passionate advocate for the poor and dispossessed  and thorn in the side of the state’s business and political establishment, died Wednesday at home in Cranston surrounded by his family. He was 86.


Economic inequity has become a touchstone of our times. This week, NPR and the University of Rhode Island both kickoff dialogues on income inequality.

Last week brought a glimmer of good economic news to a state and nation that have grown all too used to doom and doldrums. 

  In bad news for the Rhode Island economy, the unemployment rate inched up to 5.6 percent in August  from 5.5 percent in July and the Ocean State-based jobs dropped by 700, according to data released today by the R.I. Department of Labor and Training.

The state jobless rate was higher than the national unemployment rate, which stood at 4.9 percent. The DLT also said the data shows that the July job losses, the state has about 5,800 more jobs than at this time last year.