On Politics

Rhode Island Public Radio's political blog. Scott MacKay and Ian Donnis keep you up-to-date with the latest in political news from around Rhode Island.

We also have PODCASTS of regular politics coverage, too!

Pre-2013 archives of the On Politics​ blog can be found here.


Rhode Island’s unemployment rate inched down to 5.5 percent in October and the state gained jobs, but the Ocean State’s jobless rate was higher than neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut, according to the state Department of Labor and Training.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Longtime Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin has a new chief of staff. Kristin Nicholson is leaving Democrat Langevin’s office to take a job at Georgetown University.

Nicholson, who has been with Langevin since his first election to the House in 2000, will become director of the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown. Taking over for Nicholson as chief of staff is Todd Adams, currently Langevin’s legislative director.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

In a sign that the 11-member Republican cohort in the House will take a more combative tone, Rep. Patricia Morgan (R-West Warwick) has won a narrow vote to succeed Brian Newberry as House minority leader.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The afternoons are growing dark, a chill leavens even sunny days and a New England winter beckons. It’s time to get ready for the holidays, with Thanksgiving up next.  The chill and the holiday remind us once again that it’s time for us to reach into our hearts and search the closets for old winter coats to donate to the 20th annual Rhode Island Buy Nothing Winter Coat Exchange.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo said she's not sure what to expect from the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, although she's concerned about the possible repeal of Obamacare, likes Trump's plan to boost federal infrastructure spending, and vows that Rhode Island will protect the civil rights of its citizens.

A Superior Court judge has ordered Hewlett Packard Enterprise to continue its disputed work on the DMV computer system.

Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein issued a temporary restraining order requested by the state. That means Hewlett Packard Enterprise, or HPE, must legally keep working on the long-delayed multi-million dollar computer system for the DMV.

Silverstein ruled the state would suffer immediate and irreparable harm if work on the DMV computer system ground to a halt. He scheduled further arguments in the case for December 1.

Expect the unexpected when it comes to politics, right? Yes and no. While Tuesday's presidential election offered a big surprise, General Assembly results in the Ocean State mostly represent a lack of change. So thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. Your tips and comments remain welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

BU Rob13, Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons License

Every American election brings an assessment of how well the media covered  things. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says there should be some vigorous scrutiny of the 2016 election cycle.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello emerged with a 65-vote lead over Republican rival Steven Frias after the state Board of Elections counted mail ballots Thursday, but Frias said he does not accept the results and wants an investigation of possible vote fraud in the election.


On the no-drama Rhode Island political front, the Democratic leadership of the state senate has scheduled a caucus at the Statehouse at 6 p.m. tonight to re-nominate Newport Sen. Teresa Paiva Weed as Senate President and Providence Sen. Dominick Ruggerio as majority leader. The meeting is public, according to Senate spokesman Greg Pare.

chensiyuan / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons License

Raymond `Beaver’ Tempest Jr. remains a free man, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled again in a decision released today.

The high court rejected Atty. Gen. Peter Kilmartin’s attempt to re-argue the 1982 murder of Doreen Picard, a Woonsocket homecoming queen. The court ruled that the state had not raised novel legal issues in the bid to argue the case again.

The opinion carried dissents from Chief Justice Paul Suttell and Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg. Both said the state’s case had merit.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

All you needed to know about yesterday’s  election in Rhode Island  was on display last night at the Garden Room at Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence, the ancestral home of Democratic Party election  bashes for generations.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Republican challenger Steven Frias edged Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello in voting Tuesday, but Mattiello said he received more than enough mail ballots to ensure him a victory. With the mail ballots yet to be certified by the state Board of Elections, Frias did not concede defeat.

Unofficial results showed Frias beat Mattiello by 147 voters through tallies cast on voting machines. Mattiello's campaign team said the speaker was the choice of more than 500 people who used mail ballots to vote, in what they called an insurance policy for a Mattiello victory.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Democrats have dominated the General Assembly since the 1930s. So will an angry electorate produce Republican gains on Smith Hill?

Let’s start in House District 12, which includes the heavily Latino Washington Park section of Providence. Being able to speak Spanish comes in handy when independent state rep candidate Luis Vargas goes knocking on doors in search of votes.

Fasten your seatbelt for what promises to be an impactful Election Day next Tuesday. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As usual, your comments and tips are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.