AFGE / flickr

While the Donald Trump surge in the Republican presidential sweepstakes has dominated media coverage among GOP hopefuls, the Democratic side has been suffused with reports about Hillary Clinton’s foundering campaign and her drop in public opinion poll favorability ratings.

So Lincoln Chafee has become the first Rhode Islander to seek a major party nomination for president. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on why Chafee must step up his game quickly to be a factor in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that Chafee is a politician of conviction and deeply held views about what’s wrong with the country. Throughout his long career in Rhode Island politics, most honest voters would agree Chafee was on the right side of many issues.

If Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s left-leaning U.S. senator, decides to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, one Rhode Islander who will be on his team is veteran Democratic political consultant Tad Devine.

Devine, who has held top roles in the presidential campaigns of John Kerry, Mike Dukakis and Al Gore, has had Sanders as a client, going back to the 1990s, when Sanders held Vermont’s lone seat in the U.S. House.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Once again, Rhode Islanders have elected a governor with far less than a majority of the vote. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders what we can do about this.

The boisterous cheers among delirious Democrats crammed into the Providence Biltmore’s 17th floor ballroom on election night have barely quieted. You can’t blame them for hoisting drinks and shouting themselves hoarse:  Gina Raimondo became the first woman to win election as Rhode Island's  governor and the only Democrat to capture the state’s highest elected office since 1992.

It was an improbable tableaux that unfolded in a hotel overlooking Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, on the afternoon of May 24, 2001: A man so unassuming he was known as `Geesum Jim’, from a state of scant consequence in American politics, changed the course of the most powerful government on earth merely by saying he no longer believed in the Republican Party he grew up in.

That was the day then-U.S. Sen. James M. Jeffords, universally known as ``Jim’’ stood in a hotel ballroom and told the world why he was leaving the Republican Party to caucus with U.S. Senate Democrats.

While economists and media outlets from Providence to Seattle engage in hand-wringing over inequality, Rhode Island’s political leaders seem to have no solutions at all. Smith Hill is bogged down in ridiculous debates over the master lever and the never-ending tsunami that is 38 Studios. Yet, we don’t hear much of anything about raising the state’s minimum wage from the current $8 an hour rate.

Stephen L. Brown, longtime associate publisher of the Providence Phoenix, is leaving the alternative newspaper after a career of nearly four decades as a leader in New England’s alternative newspaper landscape.

Brown, of Jamestown, turns 60 next month. Steve started in newspapering at the University of Vermont, where he began working on the student newspaper, `The Vermont Cynic’ as an undergraduate in the 1970s.

Federal regulators are being asked to resolve a regional rift over who should pay for new power lines needed to carry renewable electricity to southern New England.

Vermont has joined New Hampshire and Rhode Island to oppose the cost-sharing formula being promoted by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine. The question now before federal authorities is how much rate payers in Vermont should pay for a power line project that mainly benefits people in southern New England.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee has joined the rest of New England’s governors signing an accord to create a regional power plan.

New England’s six governors say if their states work together, they can share the cost of building natural gas pipelines and power transmission lines delivering Canadian hydro-power, and that will lower energy costs.  Chafee warns it will take a long-term investment to bring down power bills.


Southern New England, in particular Massachusetts and Connecticut, needs more renewable generation to meet their clean-energy mandates. But the supply to meet that demand is mostly in the north wind power from the mountains of Maine, or hydroelectricity from vast reservoirs in Quebec. 

Our  air conditioners have been working overtime in this steamy summer. Our wallets will be lighter when the electricity bills arrive. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay says to stabilize power costs, Rhode Island needs to look north to Canada.

Flick the wall switch and the lights go on. Turn the knob; the stove heats up. Push a button; the air conditioner hums.

Rhode Island's New Day

Apr 26, 2013

Change happens slowly in politics. Except when it doesn’t. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains the forces behind Rhode Island’s reversal on gay marriage.

The Ocean State is poised to become the 10th  state in the nation to recognize same sex marriages and join our five New England neighbors in the vanguard of the movement for equal treatment for our gay citizens.

Anya Rader Wallack, who as chairwoman of the Green Mountain Health Care Board has led Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin’s ambitious state health care overhaul, is leaving the post and moving back to Rhode Island.

Rader Wallack, one of New England’s leading health policy gurus, is leaving Vermont because her family, which is based in Little Compton, does not want to move to the Green Mountain state, she said.