RI Democrats


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.

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.

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.

Aaron Read / RIPR

  This comes as no surprise, but it is relevant: RI House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston is demoting embattled Rep. John Carnevale, D-Providence, from the Democratic House leadership team.

Even at the Statehouse, loyalty has its limits. In this case, pragmatism and campaign exigencies have triumphed. At the capitol, there is nothing like self-preservation as a motivation.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

  Rhode island Lt. Gov. Dan McKee has been elected chairman of the National Lieutenant Governors Association. The Cumberland Democrat won  the post last week at the group’s annual meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As chairman, McKee will preside over a December 2016 confab in Arizona, a March 2017 meeting in Washington, D.C. and the annual summer meeting in Nashville.

McKee, a former Cumberland mayor elected as lieutenant governor in 2014, will also lead the group’s 17-member executive committee in directing policy discussions.

John Bender / RIPR

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders brought his insurgent Democratic presidential primary campaign to Rhode Island Sunday, giving an impassioned speech to 7,000 cheering supporters at a sun-dappled Temple to Music at Roger Williams Park in Providence.


Once again, Rhode Island lawmakers are ensnared in a joust over extending ethics oversight of the General Assembly. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says the measure isn’t likely to usher in change on Smith Hill.

Marc Nozell / flickr

Democrat Bernie Sanders beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by double digits in the New Hampshire primary, and Donald Trump was the big Republican winner, an outcome that was expected but left other Republican candidates vying for second place. 


  The criticism came fast and hard for former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee’s presidential debate performance. Yet RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says this shouldn’t tarnish his family’s political legacy or his reputation for truth-telling.

David Axelrod’s fine and quite well-written new political memoir entitled `Believer: My Forty Years In Politics’ has some interesting insights on Patrick Kennedy’s early career, in which Axelrod had a role.

In 1994, Axelrod, who would later become Barack Obama’s political consigliere, was the media consultant for Kennedy’s first campaign for Congress in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District. Kennedy, just 26, had served five years in the RI House of Representatives as a rep from Providence’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column, recapping another eventful week in Rhode Island. As always, your tips and feedback is welcome, and you can follow me on the twitters. Best wishes to my readers for Easter and Passover. Here we go.

John Bender / RIPR

Former House Speaker Gordon Fox has admitted that he violated the law by converting campaign money to personal use and accepting a bribe to wire a liquor license for a Thayer Street bar that the neighbors weren’t  too keen on having near their homes.

But in Rhode Island political circles, the biggest rule he broke was the iron, if unofficial, Statehouse cliché: Don’t take a dime while you are serving in the General Assembly. Then cash in for as much as you can make later.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

J. Michael Lenihan, the East Greenwich Democratic state senator and tireless advocate for open government causes, died at his home yesterday after a battle with cancer. He was 71.

Lenihan was a leader of government reform forces in the aftermath of the credit union collapse of the early 1990s. A burly high school history teacher, he played a crucial role in crafting legislation on lobbyist disclosure, open government records laws and increasing transparency in a state government not known for always being accountable to voters.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Once again, a Rhode Island General Assembly member has been arrested.Rhode Island Public Radio's political analyst Scott MacKay on why the charges against Rep. Joseph Almeida don’t fit the usual pattern.

The Rhode Island state police have nabbed Providence State Rep. Almeida for allegedly misappropriating about $6,000 in campaign money for personal use.

Continuing the themes of her gubernatorial campaign, Gov. Gina Raimondo took office as Rhode Island’s first female governor this afternoon with a pledge to work diligently to improve the state’s struggling economy.

Raimondo, 43, a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard University graduate, projected optimism and a can-do attitude as she delivered her inaugural address under snow flurries and a January chill on the south steps of the State House.