On Politics
5:49 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Bill Fischer Leaving Clay Pell's Campaign

Bill Fischer, who has brought communications discipline to the early phase of Clay Pell's Democratic gubernatorial campaign as Pell's spokesman, is transitioning out of the campaign this week.

"I'm certainly proud of what we accomplished with Clay, working with his team to get the campaign off the ground successfully," Fischer told RIPR Wednesday afternoon.

Fischer, who runs his own consulting and communications shop, True North Communications, is a battle-tested, generally unflappable operative who previously served as chief of staff for Sheldon Whitehouse when Whitehouse was attorney general. He also ran Whitehouse's 2002 campaign for governor, when Whitehouse lost a very close three-way Democratic primary to Myrth York.

Fischer says it was "never the plan" for him to serve as the ongoing day-to-day spokesman for Pell's campaign.

"Looking at the timing, before things really get going, this is a good time for me to transition out," Fischer says. "I need to return my main focus to True North Communications," ahead of an intensifying General Assembly session in which Fischer is lobbying for Planned Parenthood, the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence, and the Payday Lending Reform Coalition. He calls that his biggest workload in terms of the legislature in recent years. Fischer says his departure from Pell's campaign is about "finding a balance."

Fischer calls the departure "absolutely" his own decision. He says it's "highly unlikely" he might wind up working on a different gubernatorial campaign this year. Fischer says dissatisfaction with Pell was "not at all" a factor in his decision to leave, adding, "I think Clay can really do great things for Rhode Island."

Fischer's skill in communications was evident after GoLocalProv broke a story indicating Pell's spotty voting record. Rather than letting the story drag on over days, Pell took responsibility for his actions in a brief statement.

Pell's campaign manager, Devin "Short Pants" Driscoll, is among a number of younger political operatives who have been nurtured by Fischer. Fischer also sheltered Pell during his early months as a candidate, allowing him to find his sea legs on the stump before freeing him for broader media exposure.

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