Democrats

Ian Donnis / RIPR

One of Rhode Island's most prominent Democratic union leaders, Robert A. Walsh Jr., says he now regrets backing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008:

"I was an early and vocal supporter of President Obama's first bid for [presidential] office, and in hindsight, I probably should have been an early and vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton. So for all my friends who have chastised me for that, this is an admission that I was wrong on that case -- on the experience issue."

While Lincoln Chafee's move to become a Democrat might be utterly unsurprising to some, the governor's move nonetheless scrambled the landscape for what already looked like a riveting election fight next year. That's why Chafee leads my weekly column. Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to drop me a line at idonnis (at) ripr (and) org  and to follow me on Twitter. Let's go:

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Lincoln Chafee, who rose to public attention as the son of an iconic moderate Republican and left the GOP amid the rightward movement of George W. Bush's presidency, on Thursday became a Democrat.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay sat down with host Elisabeth Harrison to discuss Governor Lincoln Chafee's decision to join the Democratic party.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Lincoln Chafee plans to visit Warwick City Hall Thursday morning to change his party affiliation from unaffiliated to Democrat and to make a brief statement.

Chafee plans to make the switch at 10:30 am Thursday, according to spokesman Christian Vareika (who emphasized he was speaking on personal time, on a personal phone).

Vareika denied that Chafee's move is an opportunistic one in advance of a tough re-election fight:

The sophisticated grassroots campaign in support of same-sex marriage offers a tangible reminder of the value of field work makes in Rhode Island politics. So as we move closer to an expected Democratic gubernatorial clash between Angel Taveras and Gina Raimondo next year, keep an eye on their level of outreach to young political activists.

Seth Magaziner, who would add an unabashedly progressive profile to the 2014 campaign season, is considering running for treasurer next year.

UPDATE: Via email, Magaziner confirms that he's looking at the race, adding that he's still early in the process:

Over the past few days, a number of people have encouraged me to run for General Treasurer should the position become open. I haven't made any decisions yet, but am considering the possibility.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Devin Driscoll, communications head for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage -- which led the grassroots campaign to legalize same-sex marriage -- is heading to a new job, as the Chicago-based Northeast regional director for Organizing for Action, the Democratic effort formerly known as Obama for America.

Courtesy Paul Tencher

West Warwick native Paul Tencher is set to become the campaign director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The move comes after Tencher managed Democrat Joe Donnelly's winning Senate campaign in Indiana over Republican Richard Mourdock last year.

Tencher is expected to focus on aiding Democratic Senate candidates in states won last year by Mitt Romney.

By email, he says:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mar 8, 2013

RI was largely spared the latest snow storm, but that was not the case for our neighbors in MA and CT.  The state's economy is improving.  These stories and more on the Morning News Podcast.  
Plus this week's guest on Political Roundtable is Woonsocket City Council President John Ward.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.  news@ripr.org

East Providence Polling Place in 2012
Catherine Welch / RIPR

A controversial Voter ID bill that became law in 2011 could face changes at the General Assembly, including possible repeal. The passage of the law by a Democratic-controlled legislature attracted national attention.

Supporters of Voter ID call it a way to protect the integrity of voting. But critics say requiring voters to prove their identity reduces turnout by minorities and other groups that usually support Democrats.

Just about every good government group in Rhode Island is pushing for an end to the so-called master lever option on state ballots. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains why this is not a panacea for what ails our state’s political culture.
 
It has become an article of faith in Rhode Island among the self-styled government reform groups, most statewide elected politicians and the chattering pundit classes that our state needs to get rid of that relic of urban machine politics, the master lever.

Governor Lincoln Chafee is throwing his support behind eliminating the master lever.

“It is time for Rhode Island to join the majority of states and eliminate the Master Lever from the ballot,” said Governor Chafee. “Any mechanism that contributes to voter confusion – and worse, voter disenfranchisement – should not be on the ballot. Its time has come.”

In a news release, the governor says eliminating the master lever will further align Rhode Island with neighboring states and provide its citizens with more open and transparent government. 

Why would a freshly minted political star who has already banked more than $1 million in campaign fundraising stage a $25-per-person (suggested) football-watch event at a barbecue-burger joint in Providence’s Jewelry District on a Monday night in December?

If you’re state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, the answer probably has to do with expanding her base of support in the run-up to the 2014 gubernatorial race.

UPDATE: Former state Democratic chairman Bill Lynch, who gave up the post in 2010, says he said “no” after being asked recently if he might be interested in returning as chair “It doesn’t fit professionally with what I am doing right now,” says Lynch, a lawyer at Adler Pollock & Sheehan.

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With state Democratic Party chairman Edwin Pacheco mulling a run for secretary of state in 2014, party insiders are already talking succession.

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