RI Republicans

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.

Latest talk among Democratic operatives: Optimism about Elorza in Providence, worry about Raimondo in governor's race. If she loses there will be lots of second-guessing her general election campaign.

The Rhode Island gubernatorial election between Democrat Gina Raimondo and Republican Allan Fung has become much closer than anyone thought even a month ago. Raimondo’s lackluster general election campaign, which followed a very well done primary effort, is surely part of her problem.

Democrat Gina Raimondo clings to a narrow lead over Republican Allan Fung in Rhode Island’s campaign for governor, according to the latest poll released by Rasmussen Reports, a national pollster. The survey has Raimondo, the state general treasurer, at 42 percent, and Cranston Mayor Fung at 37 percent, with 11 percent preferring another candidate (Bob Healey is the Moderate Party candidate for governor) and 11 percent undecided. The survey of 750 likely Rhode Island voters was taken between September 23 to 25 and carries a margin of sampling error of 4 percent.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

During a contentious televised debate last Tuesday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block said he would mold his administration after William Weld, the former Republican Massachusetts governor.

At the same debate, which was held at the Providence Performing Arts Center and broadcast by WPRI-Channel 12, , Cranston Mayor Allan Fung said he would follow the example of former Rhode Island Republican Gov. Lincoln Almond, who,   like Weld, was a quintessential  New England GOP moderate.

It’s pretty rare for top national Republican figures to visit Rhode Island, one of the nation’s deepest blue Democratic states. But Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus swoops into the Ocean State Thursday to scoop some campaign cash.

Priebus is scheduled to appear at a fund-raising event held by Mr. and Mrs. David Ford on Newport’s tony Bellevue Avenue, where the houses have names. (This mansion is called Miramar, at 646 Bellevue).

Ken Block and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung  clashed in their second debate within 24 hours this afternoon, a meeting that produced more heat than enlightenment and revealed few major policy differences between the two candidates vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the September 9 primary.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

As the battle over whether to hold a Rhode Island Constitutional Convention simmers on the back burner in the dog days of August, the debate is taking shape.

Every 10 years, Rhode Island voters must decide whether to hold a so-called ConCon, which is comprised of citizen delegates elected from Rhode Island’s 75 House districts. This time, the discussion is largely along ideological lines, with more conservative groups favoring a convention and liberal and moderate organizations opposed.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung moved a step closer to capturing the Republican Party’s endorsement for governor, winning support from the RI GOP Nominating Committee at a meeting Thursday evening at party headquarters in Warwick.

Fung won 9 of the 14 votes on the committee, which makes recommendations for next week’s Republican State Convention, which will convene June 26th at the Radisson Hotel in Warwick to make the endorsement. Fung also received the nod of the Hopkinton Republican Town Committee, bringing to 18 the number of city and town GOP committees to back the Cranston mayor.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island’s modern political history is filled with bitter Democratic primaries for governor. But RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay  says this campaign season it is the Republicans who are bashing each other.

Rhode Island voters have not elected a Democratic governor since 1992, when Bruce Sundlun decisively beat Republican Betty Leonard. There are many factors contributing to this Democratic Statehouse futility.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Eliminating the master lever in Rhode Island elections is picking up steam in the General Assembly. RIPR political analyst  Scott MacKay says getting rid of straight party voting may be much ado about not much.

The Rhode Island House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to end the so-called master lever, a relic of the state’s urban political machine past. A conga line of statewide elected politicians, from Gov. Lincoln Chafee down to Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, support this change.

Raymond McKay’s Republican U.S. Senate candidacy seems to depend on his legal battle with Warwick city officials over whether he should be allowed to keep his city job while he runs for office.

Local media outlets have much of McKay’s alleged ``right’’ to run for any office he chooses. Steve Brown of the R.I. Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union told the Providence Journal that the Warwick city ordinance that bars classified municipal employees from running for office is ``overly broad’’ and too restrictive.

UPDATE: Williams (Labor) Ajello (Judiciary) Melo (Finance) out as committee chairs as Mattiello takes over.

As has been the case since its days as a British colony, Rhode Island’s florid political culture is once again enmeshed in upheaval because of chicanery in high places.

The abrupt demise of Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox of Providence means another episode of   `As the Rhode Island Statehouse turns.’

This just in: Gordon Fox has resigned as RI House Speaker. Here's why in a post that predicted this and was posted several hours before the Fox announcement:

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.

What everyone in the Rhode Island political swirl should understand about the state pension overhaul settlement details that are due for release tomorrow: This is very likely to be only the beginning of a protracted process.

One thing we know for sure. Even if it is fair and reasonable, not everyone is going to like it. Some unionized state employees and teachers will not be satisfied with anything less than a full restoration of the pension benefits that were sliced dramatically in the 2011 special General Assembly pension session.

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