RI Republicans

Eighty years ago, Rhode Island Democrats took over state government with one fell swoop in a coup that became known as the Bloodless Revolution. The event has set the template for Rhode Island politics ever since.

In just 14 minutes at the State House on New Year’s Day, 1935, the Democrats took control of the General Assembly, replaced the entire Rhode Island Supreme Court,  consigned to the dustbin of history more than 80 boards and commissions and fired Republican appointees who had run state government forever.

Lila Sapinsley,  former state senator from Providence’s East Side and patron of arts, education  and good government causes, has died at her Laurelmead home in Providence. She was 92.

A liberal Republican, Sapinsley rose to become the first woman  Senate Minority Leader and was nearly elected lieutenant governor in 1984, an election she narrowly lost to Democrat Richard Licht.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Among the grand ironies of Rhode Island politics is that Providence’s East Side, the neighborhood that vaulted Buddy Cianci into City Hall 40 years ago in his first upset victory for mayor, proved to be the impregnable roadblock to Cianci’s mayoral redemption tour yesterday.

When the returns rolled in last night, it was evident that when the East Side neighborhood votes were tallied, Democrat Jorge Elorza had rolled up such big margins that there was no way Cianci had a chance at an improbable Last Hurrah victory.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

At the Democratic victory party at the Providence Biltmore Hotel late last night, no one had a wider smile than Kate Coyne McCoy, the longtime advocate for electing women to political office in Rhode Island and around the nation.

``Twenty years ago, I was walking up the stairs to this room (the 17th floor ballroom, where media and pols meet on election night) with Myrth York,’’ recalled Coyne McCoy. ``It was an awful night.’’

As U.S. Senate returns flow in later this evening from around the nation, the Rhode Island politician with the most at stake is U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who is expected to coast to reelection.

First elected in 1996 to the seat held for 36 years by the late Claiborne Pell, Democrat Reed has accumulated enough seniority to become  chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a crucial post for Rhode Island’s defense industry and the U.S. Navy installation in Newport that is anchored by the Naval War College.

Latest talk among Democratic operatives: Optimism about Elorza in Providence, worry about Raimondo in governor's race. If she loses there will be lots of second-guessing her general election campaign.

The Rhode Island gubernatorial election between Democrat Gina Raimondo and Republican Allan Fung has become much closer than anyone thought even a month ago. Raimondo’s lackluster general election campaign, which followed a very well done primary effort, is surely part of her problem.

Democrat Gina Raimondo clings to a narrow lead over Republican Allan Fung in Rhode Island’s campaign for governor, according to the latest poll released by Rasmussen Reports, a national pollster. The survey has Raimondo, the state general treasurer, at 42 percent, and Cranston Mayor Fung at 37 percent, with 11 percent preferring another candidate (Bob Healey is the Moderate Party candidate for governor) and 11 percent undecided. The survey of 750 likely Rhode Island voters was taken between September 23 to 25 and carries a margin of sampling error of 4 percent.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

During a contentious televised debate last Tuesday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block said he would mold his administration after William Weld, the former Republican Massachusetts governor.

At the same debate, which was held at the Providence Performing Arts Center and broadcast by WPRI-Channel 12, , Cranston Mayor Allan Fung said he would follow the example of former Rhode Island Republican Gov. Lincoln Almond, who,   like Weld, was a quintessential  New England GOP moderate.

It’s pretty rare for top national Republican figures to visit Rhode Island, one of the nation’s deepest blue Democratic states. But Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus swoops into the Ocean State Thursday to scoop some campaign cash.

Priebus is scheduled to appear at a fund-raising event held by Mr. and Mrs. David Ford on Newport’s tony Bellevue Avenue, where the houses have names. (This mansion is called Miramar, at 646 Bellevue).

Ken Block and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung  clashed in their second debate within 24 hours this afternoon, a meeting that produced more heat than enlightenment and revealed few major policy differences between the two candidates vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the September 9 primary.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

As the battle over whether to hold a Rhode Island Constitutional Convention simmers on the back burner in the dog days of August, the debate is taking shape.

Every 10 years, Rhode Island voters must decide whether to hold a so-called ConCon, which is comprised of citizen delegates elected from Rhode Island’s 75 House districts. This time, the discussion is largely along ideological lines, with more conservative groups favoring a convention and liberal and moderate organizations opposed.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung moved a step closer to capturing the Republican Party’s endorsement for governor, winning support from the RI GOP Nominating Committee at a meeting Thursday evening at party headquarters in Warwick.

Fung won 9 of the 14 votes on the committee, which makes recommendations for next week’s Republican State Convention, which will convene June 26th at the Radisson Hotel in Warwick to make the endorsement. Fung also received the nod of the Hopkinton Republican Town Committee, bringing to 18 the number of city and town GOP committees to back the Cranston mayor.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island’s modern political history is filled with bitter Democratic primaries for governor. But RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay  says this campaign season it is the Republicans who are bashing each other.

Rhode Island voters have not elected a Democratic governor since 1992, when Bruce Sundlun decisively beat Republican Betty Leonard. There are many factors contributing to this Democratic Statehouse futility.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Eliminating the master lever in Rhode Island elections is picking up steam in the General Assembly. RIPR political analyst  Scott MacKay says getting rid of straight party voting may be much ado about not much.

The Rhode Island House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to end the so-called master lever, a relic of the state’s urban political machine past. A conga line of statewide elected politicians, from Gov. Lincoln Chafee down to Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, support this change.

Raymond McKay’s Republican U.S. Senate candidacy seems to depend on his legal battle with Warwick city officials over whether he should be allowed to keep his city job while he runs for office.

Local media outlets have much of McKay’s alleged ``right’’ to run for any office he chooses. Steve Brown of the R.I. Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union told the Providence Journal that the Warwick city ordinance that bars classified municipal employees from running for office is ``overly broad’’ and too restrictive.