Dawson Hodgson: "I Would Like to Be Rhode Island's Next Attorney General"

Sep 27, 2013

State Senator Dawson Hodgson (R-North Kingstown) is gearing up for a possible run next year against Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, a Democrat.

"I would like to be Rhode Island's next attorney general," Hodgson said Thursday during a taping of RIPR's Political Roundtable. "I'm in the the very early stages of organizing a campaign for that office, and over the coming months, I'll be speaking with my family, my friends, and constituents to determine whether I have the sufficient support to continue in public service."

A potential match-up between Kilmartin and Hodgson, one of just five Republicans in the state Senate, can be viewed in a number of ways.

The AG's office is usually a political minefield. But Kilmartin's tenure has been absent the high-profile controversies that befell Patrick Lynch (the Station fire) and Sheldon Whitehouse (the shooting death of Providence police Officer Cornel Young Jr., the Jennifer Rivera case). Kilmartin also has a vote-rich base in the Democratic bastion of Pawtucket and many friends from his 20-year career in the General Assembly.

There's no word of potential Democratic challengers in 2014 for Kilmartin, who won a three-way primary on his path to victory in 2010.

Yet Hodgson, in two terms in the Senate, has come across as an independent-minded lawmaker, as seen by his calls for a Senate committee to review the state's disastrous investment in 38 Studios. He could run as an outsider (his district was the subject of an extreme gerrymander during the most recent round of redistricting, if you want to get a sense of what the Smith Hill leadership thinks of him). Hodgson is already incorporating this outsider theme in his message.

"To me this is a matter of leadership for our state," he says. "Rhode Islanders, they deserve leadership and particularly an attorney general who is going to stand up for them."

Hodgson calls Kilmartin "an entrenched 22-year politician with $100,000 in the bank ... and [running against him will] be a heavy lift, but this is not something I can do on my own, nor should I. It's not about me. It's about the people of the state."    

(We've made a request for Kilmartin to join us on Political Roundtable in the near future.)

Money would be a key issue in the race. Hodgson says if he runs, his plan is to use the maximum under the state's public financing system.

Hodgson says he prosecuted hundreds of felonies while working in the AG's office from 2005 to 2010. He is a graduate of Bucknell University and the University of Connecticut School of Law.

For more conversation with Hodgson, listen to our Bonus Q+A with him.