The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RISeptember 8th, 2012 at 5:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post
Welcome to another edition of my weekend column – as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The biggest news in Rhode Island this week barely made a ripple locally – Central Falls’ near-exit from bankruptcy just 13 months after it became the first Rhode Island municipality to file Chapter 9. National outlets noted the case moved with surprising speed compared with other cases in places like Vallejo, and they highlighted the precedent it sets by cutting pension payments while leaving bondholders whole. “I have to give credit to the state officials in Rhode Island, the governor, the legislature, which we all know passed statutes – at a rate in the state where I live certainly would never have happened – to help make this program a success,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Bailey said at Thursday’s hearing. He also pushed back at complaints in Central Falls about the millions in legal fees spent on the case, saying that’s far less than in other places. “I think that this is an example for, not only Rhode Island, but maybe the nation on how to run a Chapter 9,” Bailey declared. It’s not necessarily a lesson Rhode Island wished to learn, but there’s no question the process was managed well – a largely unheralded victory for the Chafee administration.
2. The air has gone out of the 1st Congressional District’s Democratic primary, with little sign Anthony Gemma has done enough to close a 12-point gap and steal the nomination from David Cicilline. Both candidates and Republican Brendan Doherty will gather with their supporters to watch the results come in after polls close Tuesday at 8 p.m. Cicilline and Gemma will both be in Providence – Cicilline at Blaze on Hope Street, Gemma at his Roosevelt Avenue headquarters – while Doherty will host his troops at Le Foyer in Pawtucket. We’ll of course have complete coverage of the primary on WPRI 12 and WPRI.com.
3. Imagine if Rhode Island’s congressional districts had an electoral college? Instead of talking about who’ll get the most votes overall in November, we’d be focused on whether they could pull out wins in a small number of swing communities: Middletown (Loughlin won by 19 votes in 2010), Barrington (Loughlin by 36), Woonsocket (Loughlin by 237) and North Providence (Cicilline by 482). Instead of trying to boost the vote totals in their strongholds, Doherty would write off Providence and the Democrats would write off Cumberland.
4. Is Doherty ready for Sept. 12? Wednesday is when the fight to define him will really begin. If Democrats are smart, they’ll carpet-bomb Doherty by saturating the airwaves with TV ads defining the Republican newcomer as a cross between Paul Ryan, Don Carcieri and Jesse Helms. Doherty hasn’t scheduled any TV advertising until the final few weeks of the campaign, and it’s unclear whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ads supporting him were effective when they aired earlier this year. Republicans need to stay on offense if they want to win the district – and the new financial filings indicate the DCCC may need to help Cicilline, especially if the NRCC actually comes through for Doherty. Scott MacKay has more on the race here.
5. It hasn’t gotten much attention, but the 2nd Congressional District actually has a much more crowded primary than the 1st. Two Democrats (Jim Langevin and John Matson) and four Republicans (Michael Riley, Michael Gardiner, Don Robbio and Kara Russo) are all on their respective parties’ ballots. The Warwick Beacon has this thorough look at the field for voters trying to sort out the half-dozen contenders.
6. Every time you hear a reporter (including yours truly) confidently claim to know what’s really happening in a campaign, think about this Sasha Issenberg piece on how much of modern campaign strategy political journalists can’t see.
7. Did you catch this wild Tim White exclusive on the 6:00 news last night? “The mayor of North Providence says he has no regrets after being caught on tape unleashing an expletive-laced tirade at a firefighter and ordering him to wax a fire truck as punishment for allegedly insulting the mayor’s family.” Read and watch here. (And if you’re wondering, Tim says the recording was legal even though the mayor didn’t know about it – Rhode Island is a one-party consent state.)
8. With many Rhode Island Democrats unhappy about all the recent controversy here over voter IDs and voter fraud, perhaps it’s time they consider Robert Kuttner’s proposal for a national ID card?
9. I got some pushback from a well-informed pol to last week’s item about the oddity of endangered lawmakers failing to create campaign websites. He cited two reasonable explanations. The first is cost – most have relatively little campaign cash and a good website can cost hundreds of dollars even if it gets few visits. The second is that old-fashioned door-knocking is still the route to victory in Rhode Island because legislative districts here are so small, and unlike their challengers veteran incumbents are probably already well-known (for better or worse). Fair enough. But I’d argue having some formal Web presence matters even for local politicians in the age of Google, just as it does for small businesses – and particularly with young voters, who’ll find it strange to say the least to discover a candidate is AWOL online.
10. There’s no silver lining to The Providence Journal’s decision to cut its staff again – as Charlie Bakst points out in that story, more cutbacks are bad news for journalism and bad news for Rhode Island’s public life. Ian Donnis put the news in historical perspective, while Ken Doctor looks at what makes a paywall successful.
11. Providence Sen. Paul Jabour finished his odd answer about gay marriage at a candidates forum this week with a funny riff: “I’m not corrupt. I don’t take a nickel. I run my own campaign. I’m the only senator that won’t take a nickel; someone called me ‘Senator Take-Nothing’ – I don’t take the Blue Cross, I don’t take the pay increase, and I’ve never taken a political contribution. I send letters back every day to people saying, ‘I don’t want any money.’ I don’t accept money. I’ve paid for the campaign myself. I am ethical and I cannot be compromised, and that’s the best thing for this district.”
12. This week on Newsmakers – Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Common Cause Rhode Island’s John Marion on voting changes next week and new laws. Watch Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence. This week on Executive Suite – Lifespan executive and R.I. Airport Corporation chairwoman Dr. Kathleen Hittner. Watch Sunday at 6 p.m. on myRITV (or 6 a.m. on Fox – set your DVRs). See you back here next Saturday morning.
Tags: saturday quick hits