As U.S. Senate returns flow in later this evening from around the nation, the Rhode Island politician with the most at stake is U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who is expected to coast to reelection.
First elected in 1996 to the seat held for 36 years by the late Claiborne Pell, Democrat Reed has accumulated enough seniority to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a crucial post for Rhode Island’s defense industry and the U.S. Navy installation in Newport that is anchored by the Naval War College.
A new report finds defense workers are being paid the highest wages in Rhode Island. The state’s Defense Economy Planning Commission released the report, which focused on the industry’s economic impact last year.
It finds there are 16,000 defense workers in the state. Commission co-chair Senator Louis DiPalma said those jobs support other jobs. “The 1.5 multiplier. So for every one job, there’s 1.5 additional jobs that can be multiplied by that. That’s a big deal,” said DiPalma.
General Dynamics has landed a $17.6 billion Navy contract to build submarines. The Virginia-class subs will be built at Electric Boat in Quonset Point. General Dynamics spokesman Bob Hamilton said this contract involves ten submarines, starting construction over the next five years at a rate of two per year.
It isn’t a surprise that Rhode Island’s Republican Party is having a difficult time finding a credible candidate to take on Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.
Reed first won election to the U.S. House in 1990 and moved up to the Senate after the retirement of Sen. Claibone Pell. Reed has never lost an election and in recent campaigns has had easier and easier opponents.
Submarine maker Electric Boat is expanding its presence in the state.
Electric Boat has signed a 25-year-lease that expands its footprint at the Quonset Business Park by 40 percent. The company makes Virginia Class nuclear submarines for the Navy. The Navy recently doubled its order from one sub to two. Steve King, director of the Quonset Development Corporation which negotiated the lease, says the company will use the new space to accommodate the heavier workload.