On Politics
12:00 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

16 names to consider as the next chair of the RI Democratic Party

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.

A few of the big questions that would come with a change in party leadership: do Democrats strike out in a new direction by choosing a woman or minority as party chair? Does the party try to close ranks with a labor movement still unhappy about last year’s pension overhaul? Does Speaker Gordon Fox, after recently being nominated by conservative Reps Arthur Corvese and Karen MacBeth, throw a bone to the growing progressive ranks in the House?

Pacheco says he hopes to make a decision on whether to pursue a campaign by the early part of next year — January or February.

Here”s a rundown on some of the names being discussed among insider (in alphabetical order):

David aRusso: A son of the late Johston mayor Ralph aRusso, aRusso yielded the chairmanship last year of the Johnston Democratic Town Committee. In doing so, aRusso cited a desire to spend more time on his role as executive director of the Rhode Island Association of Democratic City and Town Chairs.

–  Chris Blazejewski. The Providence rep’s upward trajectory can be seen in his recent promotion as a deputy House whip. Blazejewski might be reluctant to put aside a bright political future for the voluntary role of party chair. 

Jenn Bramley. An experienced communications pro with her own shop, Bramley has worked for former Congressman Bob Weygang, former treasurer Paul Tavares, and former gubernatorial candidate Myrth York.

Victor Capellan is a veteran of efforts going back to the ’90s to raise the political profile of Latinos in Rhode Island. He currently works as a deputy superintendent in the Central Falls schools.

 David Caprio was upset by Teresa Tanzi in a 2010 Democratic primary and lost his House Judiciary Committee chairman’s post. Caprio is part of a prominent political family, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him return to the fray at some point.

Chris Fierro. The former Woonsocket state rep known for his smart political chops found a new calling as district director for Congressman David Cicilline.

Nick Hemond is an up-and-comer among local political operatives.  It doesn’t hurt that he worked on Speaker Fox’s re-election campaign and that the RWU Law grad recently passed the bar. 

Matt Jerzyk.  The deputy city solicitor in Providence is known as a shrewd political strategist. The original “blog-father” flashed his passion for the thrust-and-parry of campaigns during Fox’s race, and he’s been a enthusiastic supporter of James Diossa in Central Falls.  

Arianne Lynch. The crack deputy chief of staff for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras (no relation to Patrick Lynch) projects quiet confidence.  

Patrick Lynch. The former two-time AG is still sitting on a signficant campaign war chest after an early exit from the 2010 governor’s race. His brother, Bill, helmed the RI Democrats for more than a decade before giving up the post to run for Congress in 2010. Do RI Dems go back to the future with another Lynch?

Paul Moura. The former rep and senator has close ties to labor. He resides in the political hotbed of East Providence.

Juan Pichardo was called  the first Dominican-American state senator when he won his seat, and he has been mentioned more recently as a potential candidate for the seat seat — secretary of state — being considered by Pacheco.

Jeff Padwa: The Providence city solicitor is already treasurer of the state party and he co-chaired President Obama’s Rhode Island campaign in 2008. 

Elizabeth Roberts has indicated she’s likely to step out of politics at the end of her second term, but all bets could be off if Lincoln Chafee winds up finding a place in the Obama administration. At any rate, it’s a stretch to envision the smart and even-tempered LG embracing the party chair’s task of lobbing partisan bombs.

Bob Walsh: one of the most savvy political stragegists in the state, the head of the National Education Association Rhode Island remains a bete noire to local conservatives. Walsh has been the main cheerleader for the unions’ challenge to last year’s pension overhaul. For now, he remains the de facto chairman of what liberals and labor might call the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

Myrth York could never win the brass ring of the governor’s office, although her appeal to the Democratic base was clear during a series of primary wins. She’s a respected figure among liberals and offered early support to Angel Taveras in his 2010 run for mayor.

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