The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RIOctober 12th, 2013 at 5:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post
1. Brown University’s new poll makes some fairly stunning predictions about next year’s Democratic primary for governor. Brown polled a sample of 638 registered Rhode Island voters, and said 433 of them are likely to vote in next year’s Democratic primary. Since Brown’s full sample is supposed to be an accurate picture of the Rhode Island electorate, this implies 68% of registered voters will cast a ballot in the Democratic primary. To put that in perspective, only 18% of registered voters turned out in the 2002 Democratic primary between Myrth York, Sheldon Whitehouse and Tony Pires. Put another way, Brown’s poll suggests turnout in the September 2014 Democratic primary will be higher than in any November gubernatorial election since at least 1994. That’s an extraordinary forecast. In addition, Brown is projecting that just 40% of Democratic primary voters next year will be registered Democrats. However, Warwick native Matt McDermott of D.C. polling firm Lake Research Partners reports that registered Democrats made up 74% and 77% of the Democratic primary electorates in 2010 and 2006, respectively – much, much higher. Brown’s Marion Orr is standing by his projections, telling me: “This is why we asked the filter question about one’s likelihood of voting in a Democratic primary.”
2. Gina Raimondo’s eight-point primary lead in the Brown poll captured the headlines, but the survey also contained some potentially good news for Angel Taveras. When Brown queried all 638 registered voters about their opinions on various politicians, nearly 90% said they’ve already formed an opinion about both first-term Democrats. Taveras came out ahead, with 64% rating the job he’s doing as mayor of Providence as excellent or good; Raimondo’s job rating was 54% positive, and her “poor” rating was nearly twice as high (13.5% vs. 7.2%). Those findings are particularly intriguing because only 31% of Brown’s survey respondents were registered Democrats, even though their actual share of the electorate is 40%.
3. One more on Campaign 2014: should Gina Raimondo run as an independent instead of a Democrat? I’ve long been skeptical about that, based on sources inside RaimondoWorld and how it would seem to kill her chances of getting on a national ticket someday. Yet lately it’s not just Taveras supporters whispering about the possibility; a number of pro-Raimondo folks privately say they hope she’s taking a serious look at the option. If that Taveras campaign survey is anywhere near accurate – and Fred Yang is hardly a fly-by-night pollster – it’s going to be an expensive uphill battle for Raimondo to win the Democratic primary. Running as an independent could let her avoid a bruising nomination battle and save her growing war chest for the fall campaign, where she’ll face a less liberal electorate. The treasurer is canny, and she believes in numbers: if an independent run makes the most strategic sense, why wouldn’t she pull the trigger?
4. Meds-and-eds watch: Memorial Hospital is cutting jobs now that Care New England has bought it. Will the Providence region’s education and health industries subtract from economic growth again this year?
5. Our weekly Saturday Morning Post dispatch from WPRI.com reporter Dan McGowan: “The R.I. Department of Education may have inadvertently shot itself in the foot by releasing a report that showed 95% of Rhode Island’s teachers were found to be ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’ during the first year of the state’s new teacher evaluation system. While two-thirds of administrators admitted to giving some teachers higher ratings than they believed they deserved, it also gives teachers – many of whom are already highly suspicious of RIDE and Education Commissioner Deborah Gist – extra ammo in the school reform battle. For years teachers worried that the deck would be stacked against them when evaluations were fully implemented; now some say RIDE is crying foul because the results made teachers look good. ‘The Department of Education came up with an evaluation process,’ Ryan Connole, a teacher at DelSesto Middle School in Providence, told me in an email. ‘Teachers were evaluated by administrators. Teachers scored well, and [the] administration is unhappy with their results.’ In fairness to RIDE, a look at the district-by-district data does raise eyebrows. In Providence – the largest district with the highest number of poor-performing schools – only 21 of 1,498 teachers were labeled ‘ineffective,’ the lowest possible rating on the state’s four-tier scale. No other district reported more than five ineffective teachers. Gist said she’s hoping schools will make changes in future years: ‘We would expect to see refinements in the process in future years, as educators and their evaluators become increasingly familiar with the system, as the culture in our schools changes, and as evaluators’ comfort level rises regarding giving specific and direct feedback,’ she said.”
6. Thank you to WNRI 1380 AM, one of Woonsocket’s great local radio stations, for having me up this week to chat about Lisa Baldelli-Hunt’s landslide victory in Tuesday’s mayoral primary. The Democratic state rep with the famous name racked up 2,638 votes, three times more than Republican incumbent Leo Fontaine, who’s been struggling to deal with the city’s disastrous fiscal situation and defend his service on the unpopular Budget Commission. (The best analysis I saw of what Baldelli-Hunt did right was Joe Hutnak’s Woonsocket Patch breakdown.) If Fontaine loses in November, it will be another blow to the beleaguered Rhode Island GOP, which hasn’t appeared able to help him counter the Baldelli-Hunt onslaught. (Heck, Warwick Republican Rep. Joe Trillo gave money to Baldelli-Hunt’s campaign.) As a mayor, Fontaine was one of the few high-profile elected Republicans left in Rhode Island, along with Warwick’s Scott Avedisian and Cranston’s Allan Fung, and doing a local job well to build a base of support can groom a candidate for future statewide office. But it looks like the state GOP may soon lose one of the few elected leaders it has on the bench.
7. A bonus Saturday Morning Post dispatch from our own Dan McGowan: “You now know Andrew Annaldo as the Providence Board of Licenses chairman who can’t help but giggle when 74-year-old strip club bosses testify about what happens in those private booths, but once upon a time he was the third horse in one of the capital city’s most legendary mayoral races. Annaldo – a Democrat who represented Elmhurst as a young councilman (the seat is currently held by David Salvatore) – became the first million-dollar mayoral candidate in Providence history in 1990 when he spent just over $1 million to win the four-way Democratic primary, only to finish third in the general election behind Buddy Cianci, who won the race and thus began his second tour in City Hall, and Republican Fred Lippitt. But 23 years later Annaldo remembers everything, including the fact that The Providence Journal dismissed his plan to force Brown University to make payments to the city. (An August 1990 Journal editorial referred to Annaldo’s plan as ‘this week’s bad idea.’) ‘I was 20 years ahead of everyone,’ Annaldo told me following Frank Caprio’s treasurer campaign kickoff this week. ‘But I was right.’ Annaldo said he has no plans to run for office again, but indicated he is keeping a close eye on the field that’s emerging to succeed Mayor Angel Taveras if he runs for governor. ‘I don’t think we’ve seen everyone enter the race yet,’ Annaldo said. Asked if that meant he expects a comeback campaign by Cianci, who appointed him to the liquor board in late 1990s, Annaldo replied: ‘You just never know with that guy.’”
8. Congratulations and best wishes to Mike Guilfoyle, who’s leaving after eight years as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence’s secretary for public affairs and communications – aka, Bishop Tobin’s spokesman – to join Assumption College in Worcester. It’s no easy task to balance the celestial orientation of a religious organization with the temporal demands of the media, but in my experience Mike always handled his job with class and good cheer. No word yet on who’ll step into Guilfoyle’s shoes as the voice of the local hierarchy. Mike was formerly a spokesman for Jim Langevin, and apparently Rhode Island politics is a good training ground for Catholic communications: Terry Donilon of the famous Providence political family is Cardinal O’Malley’s spokesman up in the Archdiocese of Boston.
9. If you missed them the first time around, now’s your chance to check out some of the other items McGowan and I published this week: don’t believe the headlines, A.T. Cross is alive and well and staying in Lincoln … government workers are second-fewest in Rhode Island … Gordon Fox won’t run for mayor of Providence, and lost chief legal counsel Sue Pegden … Gina Raimondo’s investment chief hints at reviewing hedge funds, as Frank Caprio makes them a campaign issue … at least a dozen took buyouts at the Projo, but layoffs are still expected this month … meanwhile, Projo parent A.H. Belo sold one of its other two big papers … Sheldon Whitehouse debated Ted Cruz, whom he predicts Hillary Clinton would bury in 2016 … the shutdown means no Rhode Island jobs report next week … and Cheaters strip club’s elderly manager argues that “by looking at the girl, you wouldn’t get the trigger that she was 15.”
10. Set your DVRs: This week on Newsmakers - Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the R.I. Center for Freedom and Prosperity, on the drive to unionize child-care workers, plus WPRI 12 political analyst Joe Fleming. Watch Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence. This week on Executive Suite – A.T. Cross CEO Chad Mellen. Watch Saturday at 10:30 p.m. or Sunday at 6 p.m. on myRITV (or Sunday at 6 a.m. on Fox). See you back here next Saturday morning.
11. A programming note – I’ll be away from WPRI for a week starting Wednesday, Oct. 16. Don’t worry, though – I’m leaving you in the capable hands of Dan McGowan next Saturday morning.
Tags: saturday quick hits