Analysis: Raimondo Lays Path For Re-Election Run In State Of The State Address

Jan 17, 2018

Governor Gina Raimondo delivered her 4th annual State of the State address on Tuesday evening at the Rhode Island Statehouse.
Credit Elisabeth Harrison

Unemployment is down, cranes are rising over Providence, and there’s hope for a better future. That was the message from Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, who delivered her 4th State of the State address Tuesday evening in Providence.

Raimondo used the speech to tout some of the programs she has championed, including free tuition at community colleges and loan programs for small business owners. 

"The governor laid out basically her blueprint for re-election this year," said RIPR's political analyst Scott MacKay. "I think the overall theme was, 'look, things are looking up here in Rhode Island, and I deserve four more years of working to push them up.'"

Among the new programs Raimondo proposed in the speech: $1 billion in borrowing to improve public school buildings, increases in job training and technical training in high schools, and better insurance coverage to tackle opioid addiction. 

"Keep moving ahead with Gina, that was the bumper sticker that I would take away," said MacKay.

The governor stayed away from several controversial issues including the debate over public subsidies for a new PawSox stadium.

"This was one of those issues that was kind of the big 800-pound gorilla in the room that did not get mentioned," said MacKay.

Other issues the governor left out of the speech include a controversial proposal for a power plant in Burrillville and the ongoing problems with the state's new online benefits system, UHIP, which has not worked properly since it was introduced last year, leaving some residents unable to access benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps.

Republicans seized on UHIP, among other issues, to criticize the governor in responding to the speech. But Mackay said a State of the State address typically focuses on a feel-good message, especially in an election year.

"This is a night where you accentuate the positive," explained MacKay. "You're not out there to marinate yourself in the negatives."