RI Democrats

Mid-September is here and with it a burst of General Assembly activity. So thanks for stopping by for the return of my weekly column. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and your can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

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The conventional  Rhode Island Statehouse wisdom was that the departure of Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed of Newport for a private sector job and her replacement by Dominick Ruggerio of North Providence would usher in more cooperation between the House and Senate. The theory was that Ruggerio would get along better with House Speaker Nick Mattiello of Cranston, than did Paiva Weed.  All three are Democrats, but Paiva Weed and Mattiello had differences on policy and styles of leadership.

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Sometimes it’s hard to figure who’s in charge at the Rhode Island Statehouse. This year isn’t one of those times, as RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains.

In case you were wondering who’s running things on Smith Hill these days, we bring you House Speaker Nick Mattiello, a Cranston Democrat who has ushered in a $9.2 billion state budget that includes his pet project, cutting Rhode Island’s  disdained car tax.

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Former Gov. and U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee is back on the scene with a series of media appearances. Chafee is thinking about running for governor again, but RIPR Political Analyst Scott MacKay wonders why. 

With an eventful election year drawing ever closer, the Rhode Island Democratic Party has hired Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye as the party's executive director, RIPR has learned.

Olasanoye has most recently served as director of purchasing for the City of Providence, a job he was hired for in May 2015.

Courtesy of Whitehouse office.

Rhode Island’s 2018 U.S. Senate featuring incumbent Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse just got more complicated. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses the latest developments. 

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

R.I. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has hired political operative Joe Caiazzo to work on his 2018 reelection campaign. Caiazzo, a Stoneham, Mass. native, is no stranger to Rhode Island politics – he was a top campaign Rhode Island aide to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. In the general election, Caiazzo worked in Rhode Island for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Sanders comfortably won the primary and Clinton easily carried the Ocean State in the general election.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Longtime Latino political activist and educator Victor Capellan is stepping down as chairman of the Providence City Democratic Committee. In a news release, Capellan said he is focus on his position as school superintendent in Central Falls.

Dwight Burdette / Creative Commons License

Last week, a Democratic-fueled effort to get electoral college delegates to switch their votes failed to gain traction or block the election of Republican Donald Trump, who won a majority in the Electoral College but lost the popular vote.

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.

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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.

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.

BU Rob13, Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons License

After a toxic presidential campaign, the national question will become how to unite a fractured country. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay says Rhode Islanders will hopefully be better at this than other states. 

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Rhode Island voters support all five spending bond issues on the November general election ballot but do not think the state is headed in the right direction, according to results of a public opinion survey conducted by the Hassenfeld  Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University.

The poll, done by Fleming and Associates, sampled 400 state voters by telephone between October 6th and 10th. It carries an error margin of about 5 percent and included 52 percent landlines and 48 percent mobile phones.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Politicians love to say that elections matter. Except when some of them don’t like the results. RIPR Political analyst Scott MacKay wonders why two veteran Democratic lawmakers won’t accept their primary defeats.

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