In a sign that Angel Taveras' gubernatorial campaign is concerned about the threat posed by rival Democrat Clay Pell, Taveras' campaign is using a new television ad to attack Pell's experience, voting record, and Rhode Island credentials.
The ad begins with a clip from WPRI-TV's Newsmakers in which Ted Nesi asks Pell how long he's lived in Rhode Island full time. Pell responds, "I've been coming to Rhode Island ever since I was a child."
A voiceover then says Pell has had nine jobs in the past eight years, two of them internships, and says "he didn't even bother to vote in three of the last five Democratic primaries .... Clay Pell, inexperienced, Out of touch." The ad goes on to contrast Taveras in positive terms, calling him a leader who will put families first.
In a statement, Pell's campaign manager, Devin Driscoll, didnt respond to the criticism contained in the ad. Instead, Driscoll emphasized Pell's "new ideas and [the] fresh approach he'll bring as Governor, and his real plan to get our state back on course."
Driscoll continued, "Because of the growing momentum of our grassroots campaign, Mayor Taveras has now turned his mudslinging in our direction. We, however, firmly reject the politics of attack and innuendo. Clay learned from his grandfather that campaigns shouldn't be about tearing people down, but should be about ideas for the future.
Driscoll framed the choice facing primary voters as supporting "politics-as-usual and the pay-to-play culture that has plagued our state for too long -- or we can build a better future and make Rhode Island ready for tomorrow."
Pell lagged behind Taveras and fellow Democrat Gina Raimondo, with just 12 percent of the support, in a Providence Journal-WPRI poll released in early June. Raimondo and Taveras were in a neck-and-neck race at the time.
But Pell, the grandson of the late senator Claiborne Pell, has loaned himself more than $3 million dollars, pouring money into a stream of television ads, and campaign observers expect him to fare significantly better than June in the next poll on the Democratic primary. Taveras, meanwhile, has lagged behind Pell and Raimondo in his campaign fundraising.
There are fewer than five weeks until the September 9 primary election.