TGIF: 12 things to know about Rhode Island politics + media

Nov 2, 2012

Just four days until Election Day, as my latest TGIF goes to press. As usual, feel free to send tips and thoughts to idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let’s go:

1. With Brendan Doherty and David Cicilline running neck-and-neck in CD1, who has the better edge — Doherty (with the momentum) or Cicilline (with a more experienced Democratic ground game, and a lot of Obama voters)? A total of 225,849 people voted in CD1 in 2008, the last election there with a presidential race. By contrast, 160,569 turned out in 2010, when John Loughlin won 11 communities, but Cicilline ran up bigger totals in 9, including an almost 8000-vote margin in Providence, and 73 percent of the vote in Central Falls. Cicilline won EP by roughly 2,500 votes in 2010; he also won Pawtucket (by about 4,000 votes) and North Providence (by about 500 votes), and Newport (by about 1000 votes), while losing Cumberland (by about 1400 votes), Lincoln (by about 1400 votes), North Smithfield (by about 1000 votes), Smithfield (by about 1350 votes), and Woonsocket (by about 250 votes). This time around, it’s clearly not coincidental that both Doherty and Cicilline based their campaigns in East Providence. Doherty, a Cumberland resident, can expect to clean up in the Blackstone Valley and in conservative towns like Portsmouth. Cicilline needs to muster a strong defense in the ring communities of North Providence, Pawtucket, and East Providence. The Democrat retains strong support on Providence’s East Side. But a wild card remains in the strength of his backing elsewhere in the capital city; will Providence residents support the ex-mayor, or are they ticked?   

2. While Democrats have panned Doherty for what they call his negative, personal attacks against Cicilline, early negative advertising against Mitt Romney may be what puts President Obama over the top.

3. While the Ocean State’s most prominent Democrats rallied around Cicilline during a Thursday press conference, Ted Nesi tweeted how the state’s two top rising stars, Angel Taveras and Gina Raimondo, didn’t speak at the event. Contrast that with how Raimondo and Taveras have stumped on the East Side as part of their support for House Speaker Gordon Fox.

4. If Doherty wins, he’ll buck a persistent trend in which Rhode Island Republicans with thin political resumes have tried to vault into Congress. Doherty’s long tenure with the state police makes him something of a special case. But when will other local GOP congressional candidates start building a political portfolio before casting an eye toward Congress?

5. While Twin River has bankrolled most of the multi-million dollar campaign to expand casino gambling in Rhode Island, Elizabeth Meyer of Westport, Massachusetts, has weighed in with a $40,000 contribution to the anti-casino cause. Who is Elizabeth Meyer? It looks like she enjoys fox hunting. Yachting magazine also carried on a story a few years back on an Elizabeth Meyer, dubbed ”the conscience of Newport,” whose grandfather was the first president of the World Bank. 

6. Thanks to John Taraborelli and Julie Tremaine from Providence Monthly for inviting me to be part of a roundtable discussion on the changing Rhode Island media landscape. Also in on the chat were Erika Niedowski from the Associated Press, Dan McGowan from GoLocalProv, Tim Murphy from the Providence Journal,  Tim White and Ted Nesi from WPRI-TV, and David Scharfenberg from the Providence Phoenix..

7. The latest from Fall River native E.J. Dionne: “Here’s where we have arrived as a country: We are so polarized that even compromise has become a partisan issue.” Dionne argues that Republicans are more blame-worthy than Democrats. Yet when asked during a recent visit to RIPR about the outlook for moving past hyper-partisanship in Washington, Congressman Jim Langevin responded by lacing into a critique of GOP policies.

9. Rhode Island voters could do a lot worse than to have a choice in their local state Rep race than the one in Burrillville between Democrat Cale Keable and Republican Don Fox. Both candidates are intelligent, articulate, and well-informed. And though the race has justifiably been labeled one of the most bitter among current General Assembly candidates, Fox and Keable acted like adults, actually wishing each other good luck and sharing a few laughs, before a taping today of Newsmakers at WPRI/WNAC-TV. 

8. If poor children in Africa can master complex electronics, shouldn’t Rhode Island’s struggling cities be able to offer a solid education?

9. During a stop last month at RIPR, Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report called the possibility of a 2000-style election outcome. For those wanting to delve deeper, Politico looks at four possible freak election outcomes.

10. With the impact of Sandy still being felt near and far, Wen Stephenson indicts a lack of media attention on climate change.

11. Some gays and lesbians have been angered in the past over Gordon Fox’s approach to promoting same-sex marriage. Now, though, with Fox facing an aggressive challenge from independent Mark Binder, that’s farther in the past. An email sent by the pro-same-sex marriage group Fight Back RI says in part, “If Gordon Fox isn’t re-elected, God only knows when we’ll get a vote called in the House on marriage equality.”

12. Lincoln Chafee is set to campaign for President Obama this weekend in Pennsylvania and Virginia.