The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RIApril 7th, 2012 at 6:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post
1. It’s safe to say this was a week both Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed and House Speaker Gordon Fox will be glad to put behind them. Paiva Weed looked palpably uncomfortable as she delivered her 50-second speech on the Ciccone-Ruggerio imbroglio, and it seems her fellow senators are ready to pretend the whole thing never happened. (Has Republican Senate leader Dennis Algiere even commented on the revelations about Ciccone?) Across the rotunda, a minor bill backed by Fox and his leadership team crashed and burned - something sure to infuriate any speaker. Strange days on Smith Hill.
2. Can Ciccone win reelection in Senate District 7 after what he apparently said to the police? Probably. He outspent his last opponent 85 to 1, a ratio worthy of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, and in 2008 Barack Obama took more than 70% of the vote in half the district’s precincts. Redistricting likely made Ciccone even safer. But you never know, not to mention the fact that Ciccone and Ruggerio are over 60 and don’t have to make up their minds until late June.
3. The talented tandem that covers the Red Sox for the Projo is getting some well-deserved praise on Yahoo! Sports. “Tim Britton and Brian MacPherson are doing great work, and I emphasize that last word,” writes Kevin Kaduk, contrasting them with the Boston-based competition. “They use and understand advanced metrics, they dig for stories and they often challenge the traditional narrative that the Globe just parrots down from Mt. Fenway (Bob Hohler hatchet jobs aside). Do yourself a favor and read them this season.”
4. The high-profile liberal confab Netroots Nation is coming to Providence in June, but this year it won’t be paired with a Koch-funded counter-gathering: RightOnline 2012 will be held a week later in Las Vegas, depriving the press corps of readymade story fodder. RightOnline doesn’t think it needs to be in the same place to get attention, but that’s not the only reason they aren’t coming to Rhode Island. “Las Vegas is a more interesting place to go,” a spokesman told TPM. Ouch.
5. Speaking of Netroots Nation, isn’t it a little weird that progressives’ premier event is taking place in a state – and city – that is growing synonymous with broken promises to public-sector pensioners and fights to limit collective bargaining? Particularly since liberal politicians are leading the charge? I can imagine the articles the national press will publish: “Just steps away from Netroots Nation, a Democratic mayor is begging unionized employees to help his city stave off bankruptcy….” You can dispute that narrative, but it’ll be catnip to centrist publications.
6. Former Rhode Island Republican Party chief Patrick Sweeney took on a tough task this week, replacing John Loughlin at the helm of Barry Hinckley’s GOP campaign for U.S. Senate. Sweeney told me he sees a path to victory for Hinckley based on incumbent Sheldon Whitehouse’s liberalism and the state’s moribund economy. One thing Sweeney is sure to stop is the Hinckley campaign’s jaw-dropping burn rate – the Republican blew through more than half his meager $450,000 fundraising haul last year.
7. Also on the campaign 2012 front, is Congressman Jim Langevin really worried about no-name Republican challengers Michael Riley and Michael Gardiner? Langevin campaign manager Seth Klaiman sent out a rather alarming email March 29 chock full of exclamation points, pleading for cash. (“One of Jim’s opponents started radio commercials this week! That’s right, he is already on the air!”) Langevin’s team seems concerned about a comment to Dan McGowan by Riley – who is kicking off his bid Monday – that a competitive race could cost $3 million and he can self-fund. When I asked Reilly whether he really has the financial wherewithal to dump $3 million into an uphill battle, he replied: “I am sure they would like to know that,” and added that he “will constantly be monitoring the situation.” Riley’s email signature quoted Friedrich von Hayek, a patron saint of Austrian economics.
8. Mitt Romney wants your vote in the April 24 primary: “Tonight, I’m asking the good people of Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut to join me,” he said Tuesday. “Join me in the next step toward that destination of Nov. 6, when across America we can give a sigh of relief and know that the promise of America has been kept.”
9. Twas another banner week in the intentional press for Gina Raimondo, who collected plaudits from the FT’s Gillian Tett and the Chicago Tribune editorial board. Her spokeswoman Joy Fox told me the coverage is largely organic, triggered by outsiders intrigued about last year’s pension debate. ”In a time when many people view government negatively and see only gridlock, Rhode Island worked together to solve a complicated issue,” she said in an email. “Rhode Island also led the charge on an issue that everyone nationally knows is a huge problem.” Outsiders read local coverage of the pension debate, she said, and saw Rhode Island as “ is a serious and thoughtful place willing to take on the tough issues.” But, she added, “Our tough work isn’t done. We now need to keep the same attention and focus on the municipalities and helping them find solutions to their pension problems.”
10. U.S. Sen. Jack Reed toured the new Wickford Junction commuter-rail station this week to preview what riders will see when service begins on April 23. It’s a project close to the senator’s heart, and it’s a reminder that those oft-deried congressional earmarks can produce results – Reed secured nearly $33 million to fund the Wickford project over the years, following in the late Claiborne Pell’s footsteps.
11. I wrote a remembrance Thursday of Providence Journal reporter Peter Lord, who passed away this week. His friend editor Tim Murphy reports a public memorial service to honor Peter will be held Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. at URI’s Edwards Auditorium, with a reception to follow at the University Club. A Peter Lord Environmental Journalism Scholarship fund is being established at URI, as well, and his formal obituary in the paper will have details about how to donate.
12. This week on “Newsmakers” – U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Watch Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence. See you back here next Saturday morning.
13. Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Or both!
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