TGIF: 12 things to know about RI politics + media
Batten down the hatches for Sandy and get ready for another version of my Friday column. Thanks for reading, and feel free to send me tips, comments, and the like: idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let’s get to it:
1. How big an issue is 38 Studios in the District 4 fight between House Speaker Gordon Fox and independent challenger Mark Binder? That’s hard to quantify. But the costly boondoggle loomed large for at least one Mount Hope resident as Fox door-knocked on Duncan Avenue earlier this week. Retiree C.J. Johnson registered his disappointment with the speaker shortly after Fox showed up on his doorstep. “Do you deserve a good swift kick in the ass, or what?” Johnson asked as the conversation continued. Fox, the most powerful man in state politics, has struck a humble tone during his re-election campaign, and he patiently tried to win Johnson over. The speaker noted how it was the EDC that backed the $75 million loan guarantee for 38 Studios. Fox pointed to his support for last year’s pension overhaul and an improved education funding formula in 2010. When Johnson, a longtime acquaintance, persisted in asking whether the speaker warranted a kick in the pants, Fox said. “We all do, from time to time, because that’s what community’s supposed to be about, right?” (I’ll have more on this — including audio – in a feature on the Fox-Binder race set to air Tuesday Wednesday morning on RIPR.)
2. Election fatigue is starting to set in even among some of the biggest political junkies among us. If you’re still game, check out a David Cicilline-Bredan Doherty forum slated by Providence Rotary for 1 pm Monday at the Providence Marriott.
3. We focused attention on the tight Senate race in Indiana a few weeks ago since Democrat Joe Donnelly’s campaign manager is West Warwick native Paul Tencher. Some observers have given a slight edge to Donnelly’s GOP opponent, Richard Mourdock, because of a conservative lean in Hoosier politics. But Mourdock has since made a controversial remark about rape and God’s intentions. Democrats responded with this ad. We’ll see what happens on Election Day; Tencher now claimes Donnelly has a seven-point lead over Mourdock, the first one to exceed the margin of error.
4. Impending layoffs at the ProJo are bad news.
5. Props to Dan McGowan, who has owned the coverage of woes at the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP). One of Cicilline’s refrain in talking about this has been to point to the inherently risky nature of high-risk lending (and he won’t talk to McGowan about it). But Cicilline moved out a former PEDP director back in 2007, so he wasn’t completely unware of the agency’s doings.
7. Rhode Island’s never had a female governor or senator. We’ll wait and watch to see whether Gina Raimondo changes that in 2014. But one state over in Connecticut, Linda McMahon is facing a lack of support from female voters as she tries to become the first woman senator in the Nutmeg State.
8. Have enough safeguards been put in place to prevent another Wall Street financial meltdown like the one that happened in 2008? Congressman Jim Langevin offered a less-than-emphatic answer when asked about that during RIPR’s Bonus Q+A this week (excerpt): “I think that’s an area where he have to be ever-vigilant,” said Langevin, who pointed to his support for a consumer agency meant to look out for average investors. “I am not going to say that we’ve done everything that can be done. I think it’s a work in progress and we need to continue to be on top of that.”
9. We looked last week at how state Senator Dawson Hodgson has what he calls the most gerrymandered district in Rhode Island. Bob Plain (@bobplain) flagged this East Greenwich Patch profile of Hodgson’s Democratic opponent, Wintes B. Hames III.
10. Does Brown University lend itself to self-parody? Well, it was once accused of anti-semioticism. (That was a joke.) More recently, a few esteemed alums have crawed about a spring group independent study project on hipsterism at Bruno Uno.
11. Speaking of Jessica Grose, the Brown grad hyper-linked in the preceding item, is a former intern of yours truly at the Providence Phoenix. She’s out with her first novel, Sad Desk Salad.
12. With just more than a week until Election Day, the Obama-Romney contest is shaping up as the most racially polarized election since 1988. Put another way, Obama trails Romney, 60 percent to 37 percent, among white voters, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll.