RI Democrats

Susan Farmer, who in 1982 became the first women elected to statewide office in Rhode Island when as a Republican she ousted a longtime Democratic incumbent to become secretary of state, has died after a protracted battle with cancer. She was 71.

Governor Lincoln Chafee’s departure from next year’s Rhode Island governor’s campaign has scrambled the field. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay takes on the new generation of leaders likely to vy for the Statehouse.

Whatever you think of his governorship or his policies, Chafee’s decision to drop out of the race passes the torch to a new generation of Rhode Island politicians. Unless you live in a yurt or have totally abandoned following state government, you’ve probably heard of Angel  Taveras, Gina Raimondo or Allan Fung.

Raina C. Smith, a former Channel 12-WPRI reporter, freelance writer and novelist, has been hired by  Democratic RI Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis as his new director of communications. Smith replaces Chris Barnett, who left the secretary of state’s office to take a communications post with the Rhode Island Foundation.

Smith, 42, a North Scituate native who currently lives in Cranston, has her first day on the job today. She will be paid $92,669 annually. She is a 1997 graduate of Rhode Island College, where she majored in communications and graduated cum laude.

John O.  Pastore was a legendary Rhode Island political figure, the son of immigrants and the first Italian-American elected as a governor and a U.S. Senator. A dominant figure in state politics, Pastore had a distinguished 26-year tenure  in the Senate and never lost an election in a long career that began in the doldrums of the Great Depression in the General Assembly and ended with his decision in 1976 to retire rather than run again for a seat he would have easily kept.

As if Rhode Island wasn’t already enough of a Democratic one-party state, the latest voter registration numbers from the secretary of state’s office show that the Ocean State has gotten even more Democratic since the 2006 midterm elections.