brendan doherty

Doherty backs Raimondo as Fung stays on attack

October 9th, 2014 at 5:39 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former GOP congressional candidate Brendan Doherty announced Thursday he is backing Democrat Gina Raimondo for governor, even as his fellow Republican Allan Fung launched a new TV ad attacking her as too close to the financial sector.

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Analysis: Chafee scrambles 2014 race with Dem Party switch

May 29th, 2013 at 3:16 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

It’s nearly official: Lincoln Chafee will be a Democratic candidate for governor in 2014.

Chafee spokesman Christian Varieka told the governor will make his announcement at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Warwick City Hall. (Yes, Varieka made the call on personal time.) The news – first broken hundreds of miles south of Rhode Island by Politico and The Washington Post – struck the state’s political class like a thunderbolt Wednesday, despite the fact that Chafee has long indicated he was open to the possibility and amid rising speculation the move was coming.

Ideologically speaking, the switch makes perfect sense: Chafee is more aligned with the national Democratic Party than many of its nominal officeholders in Rhode Island. Think about it: this is a governor elected with the support of the state’s teachers’ unions on a platform of raising taxes to fund social services who just signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage in the nation’s most Catholic state.

Politically, Chafee has been a Democrat in all but name for a long time now – in 2012 he not only co-chaired President Obama’s re-election campaign and spoke at the Democratic National Convention, he even endorsed Sheldon Whitehouse’s bid for the very U.S. Senate seat he took from Chafee in 2006.

Clearly, Chafee and his savvy chief of staff, former Patrick Kennedy aide George Zainyeh, decided the approval-challenged governor’s best bet for a second term was in the Democratic Party. (Indeed, Chafee’s 2011 decision to replace the more Republican-friendly Pat Rogers with Zainyeh now seems telling.) But what’s the path? And are they right? Here are a few initial thoughts.


Analysis: Field of RI governor candidates coming into focus

May 21st, 2013 at 12:36 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

That escalated quickly.

The field of likely 2014 candidates for governor of Rhode Island has come sharply into focus over the last week thanks to three key announcements: Democrat Ernie Almonte’s switch to the treasurer’s race on Thursday, Republican Brendan Doherty’s decision to sit out the race on Friday, and Moderate Party founder Ken Block’s announcement this morning that he’s running again.

Almonte’s exit leaves Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras as the two potential heavyweights in the Democratic primary, setting up a head-to-head clash between the two. Almonte’s absence could boost Raimondo, since both of them have reputations for pension truth-telling and fiscal responsibility, issues that appeal to moderates and conservatives; Taveras has a more wide-ranging portfolio.

That assumes, of course, both Raimondo and Taveras actually jump into the gubernatorial race. While the two Democrats are taking the steps necessary to mount campaigns, until there’s an official announcement the possibility remains that one of them won’t pull the trigger. Raimondo has $1.7 million already and her fundraising shows no sign of slowing, while Taveras has $560,779 and can tap the deep-pocketed network of former DSCC chief J.B. Poersch; a lengthy primary fight could be expensive and bruising.


Doherty: No plans to run for RI governor in 2014

May 17th, 2013 at 12:53 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former State Police superintendent and congressional candidate Brendan Doherty on Friday said he has no plans to run for statewide office in 2014, likely clearing a path for Cranston Mayor Allan Fung to run unopposed in a Republican primary for governor next year.

“While I appreciate the outpouring of support and willingness of many to support me in a potential campaign for governor, after a long race for Congress and a longer career serving Rhode Island in the State Police, I am looking forward to spending time with my family, while continuing to make Rhode Island a better place through my work with charitable organizations, youth outreach, and other non-political endeavors,” Doherty said in prepared statement.

Doherty was handily defeated by incumbent Democratic Congressman David Cicilline last November after a contentious race that saw the Republican go from holding a double-digit lead in the polls to a 12-point loss on Election Night.

Despite the loss, Doherty posted a 45% favorability rating among Rhode Island voters, according to Public Policy Polling data released in January. The same poll showed the Republican trailing Democratic Treasurer Gina Raimondo by four percentage points and leading Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, another Democrat, by five percentage points in a hypothetical governor’s race. Every scenario polled showed Doherty in front of incumbent Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

In his statement, Doherty said he plans to remain in the private sector as a consultant for the Asset Protection Group, a New Jersey-based security firm founded by David Kelly, a former Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. The company has offices in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Doherty’s decision to skip the race likely paves the way for Fung to avoid a costly Republican primary and focus on a general election race that will potentially include incumbent Chafee, Raimondo or Taveras and Moderate Party Chairman Ken Block.

Fung, who had $161,000 in his campaign account as March 31, has not officially announced his plans to run for governor, but the popular Cranston mayor has hired former Republican Party executive director Patrick Sweeney as a campaign consultant. He is expected to make a formal announcement later this year.

Dan McGowan ( ) covers politics and the city of Providence for Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

Raimondo’s war chest hits $1.7M; Taveras tops $500K

May 1st, 2013 at 10:35 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Treasurer Gina Raimondo continued to raise campaign cash at a rip-roaring pace during the first three months of 2013, far outpacing the other leading candidates for the state’s top job.

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Calif. congresswoman headlining LA fundraiser for Taveras

April 8th, 2013 at 3:22 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Dan McGowan

He may not be ready to confirm that he’s running for governor in 2014, but Providence Mayor Angel Taveras certainly appears to be putting the pieces together for a statewide campaign.

Taveras is in Los Angeles today where Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is hosting a fundraising for the first-term mayor, according to campaign finance director Peter Baptista. Records show Sanchez previously contributed $1,000 to Taveras’s mayoral campaign in 2010.

In addition to the fundraiser, Baptista said Taveras plans to meet with “major Democratic donors” while he’s in California.

Taveras had just over $413,000 in his campaign account as of Dec. 31, trailing only General Treasurer and likely Democratic primary opponent Gina Raimondo among those considering a run for governor. Raimondo had $1.36 million in her war chest by the end of 2012.

The fundraising trip out west comes a week after the Providence City Council unanimously approved a pension settlement with the city’s police and fire unions and retirees that Taveras says will save the city $18 million. If they do run against each either, Taveras will likely tout his pension changes efforts over Raimondo’s statewide reforms, which are currently tied up in court.

Aside from Taveras and Raimondo, Cranston Mayor Allen Fung, former Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty, former Congressman Bob Weygand and Moderate Party Chairman Ken Block are considering a run for the state’s top job. Gov. Lincoln Chafee has indicated he intends to seek re-election.

Chafee on Monday was named the most vulnerable governor in country for 2014 by the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog.

Dan McGowan ( ) covers politics and the city of Providence for Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

Who’s supporting who in the race for RIGOP chair?

March 21st, 2013 at 9:44 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

A former Providence mayoral candidate will square off with the head of the state’s Republican Chair’s Caucus on Thursday as the R.I. Republican Party prepares to elect its third chairman in two years.

Dan Harrop, a doctor who was trounced by incumbent Mayor David Cicilline in 2006, and Mark Smiley, who is viewed as a leader within the more conservative faction of the state GOP, are running to replace Mark Zaccaria, who announced his plans to step down following an election season that saw the party lose seven seats in the General Assembly and all three of its federal races.

So who is the favorite? After the jump, read the major endorsements for each candidate. (more…)

Watch a Newsmakers special looking back at the Station fire

February 24th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

Poll: Raimondo is favorite for gov; Chafee does best as a Dem

January 31st, 2013 at 9:22 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Democrat Gina Raimondo is the early favorite to win the 2014 governor’s race, according to a new poll released Thursday morning to

The Public Policy Polling survey [pdf] shows Raimondo would win anywhere from 32% to 46% of the vote depending on which hypothetical opponents she faces. She is the only candidate to crack 40% support in any of 10 ballot tests conducted by PPP.

If Raimondo is out of the picture, however, there’s no clear frontrunner: the leading candidates in non-Raimondo scenarios shift between Republican Brendan Doherty, Republican Allan Fung and Democrat Angel Taveras depending on the match-up. Moderate Party founder Ken Block starts out with double-digit support in most scenarios, suggesting his presence could have a major impact on the outcome.

Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee faces an unsurprisingly uphill battle to win a second term, with more than half of voters saying they don’t want him to run again. His strongest shot at re-election comes if he runs as a Democrat: running under the party banner, Chafee starts out trailing Republicans Doherty and Fung by just four points. Among voters who do want Chafee to run again, 20% say he should run as an independent and 18% say he should run as a Democrat.


Watch Newsmakers with Brendan Doherty

January 27th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Response: ‘Essentially the RIGOP has no money and no talent’

January 11th, 2013 at 11:32 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

In response to this morning’s post about the GOP in blue states, a reader named “RInative” offered an insightful comment about the Rhode Island party’s plight and what it should do next – good enough to run in full here:

Mr. Graham offers up a good solution but I am not certain it would work in RI because it says “spend money” and it’s a documented fact that RIGOP is incapable of raising it. No one gives to the state party because with the exception of the brief Ken McKay era, it has been run badly for the past 20 years. The Almond and Carcieri teams invested no effort in building the party and developing a “bench” so there are few Rhode Island Republicans with any real political experience unless they’ve worked elsewhere – or for Democrats. Another problem for the RIGOP – because there are so few R electeds – and the GOP stain is so bad – the very thin GOP bench can’t find work here and so they leave – Ken McKay is the best example, but just last week, Doherty’s manager, Ian Prior, took a job in DC. The talented people who remain here and lean Republican try to make a living while avoiding the GOP label and anything to do with party politics.

So essentially the RIGOP has no money and no talent. So where to? The mayors are the one bright spot – Fung, Fontaine and Avedesian. They have all been good in their roles but none has the star power to contend in a governor’s race. Kilmartin looks comfortable in the AG role and it would be hard to displace him on performance at this point. I think that there’s hope for the RIGOP in three races: Treasurer, Secretary of State and Lt Governor. With the exception of the master lever pullers, Rhode Islanders have always been ticket-splitters – especially outside of the cities – so it’s not hard to see how these statewide offices are winnable. The key for GOP candidates is to get in the races early with a well-defined platform so the can lay out their ideas and don’t get lost in the noise around a D primary. The party would also do well to recruit Catherine Taylor to run again and work with her to build a strong group of women candidates for GA seats.

I don’t think RIGOP should focus on Governor’s race – it has not helped the party in the past and it takes all the strength out of the base. If a self-funded candidate comes along – great – but at this point he would be a sacrificial lamb. (And let’s agree to stop saying that Robitaille “came close”. Yes, he grabbed the whopping R base and came in 2nd in a 4 way – which is actually equivalent to coming in 2nd in a 2 way.)

The previous comment addresses some of the issues – and I will agree that to the extent RIGOP can distance itself from the national party, the better off it will be. However, until RIGOP can build itself up by fielding successful moderate candidates – and 2014 may be the last chance – the national issues are almost irrelevant in state and local races.

Agree? Disagree? Not sure? Share your own thoughts below.

• Related: Lessons from the blue states as RI Republicans prepare for ’14 (Jan. 11)

Lessons from the blue states as RI Republicans prepare for ’14

January 11th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Rhode Island Republicans aren’t alone in their conundrum.

The state party just took another drubbing in a big election year, managing to lose a bunch of its few General Assembly seats and striking out against a deeply tarnished incumbent congressman. Their compatriots in places like Massachusetts, California and Washington can sympathize.

The big question is, what now?

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, one of the most prominent Republicans in the state (and someone who actually wins elections), said during an RIPR panel interview Thursday that as 2014 approaches he’s keeping in close touch with Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and former congressional hopeful Brendan Doherty, an attempt to coordinate their efforts and come up with a viable slate of candidates.


Cicilline spent $2.4M, topping Doherty’s $1.4M, final tallies say

December 7th, 2012 at 3:12 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Congressman David Cicilline outspent his Republican opponent Brendan Doherty by almost $1 million during the last election cycle, finishing with barely any money left in his campaign account.

Cicilline spent a total of $2.4 million over the two-year cycle, while Doherty spent $1.4 million, according to final campaign finance reports filed late Thursday. The campaigns spent nearly equal amounts during the final stretch of the campaign: Cicilline spent $423,294, while Doherty spent $378,018, from Oct. 18 to Nov. 26.

Both campaigns spent the bulk of their money on television commercials and other advertising, along with staff payroll, meals and miscellaneous items, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Looked at another way, Cicilline spent $22.11 and Doherty spent $16.96 for each vote they received.


Will Obama punish Erskine Bowles for backing Doherty in RI?

November 20th, 2012 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Brendan Doherty wielded Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles like a shield during his failed bid for Congress: the Republican highlighted his support for the ideas of the beloved-in-the-Beltway budget-cutters to signal he wouldn’t march in lockstep with the national GOP.

Doherty’s embrace of Simpson-Bowles reached its apex in mid-October when he traveled to New York to receive their blessing in the flesh. Doherty’s campaign trumpeted an endorsement, though in the end it was unclear that Simpson and Bowles had actually endorsed him.

Whatever the case, embracing Simpson-Bowles didn’t save Doherty from a 12-point loss – and apparently Bowles’ decision is now coming back to haunt him, too.

The former North Carolina U.S. senator was seen as a leading candidate to replace Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary for Obama’s second term, but Mother Jones’ David Korn reports Democrats haven’t forgotten that Bowles backed Cicilline’s opponent (sort of):

[Jacob] Lew, who as White House chief of staff has won much praise from colleagues, has another advantage over Bowles: better standing within his own party. … This past campaign, Bowles joined with former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson (who co-chaired their deficit reduction commission) to endorse two House Republican candidates over Democrats in tight races. … Both [New Hampshire's Charlie] Bass and Doherty lost, but congressional Democrats are not eager to forgive Bowles his apostasy. A Bowles nomination, a senior House Democratic staffer says, “would cause an uproar among congressional Democrats, and the White House is aware. He endorsed Republican candidates against some of our vulnerable people … [and this has caused] extremely bad feelings over here.”

(photo: Doherty for Congress)

M. Charles Bakst on the 2012 election results in Rhode Island

November 8th, 2012 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

M. Charles Bakst, who retired in 2008 as The Providence Journal’s political columnist, watched a lot of Rhode Island elections during his four-decade career at Rhode Island’s newspaper of record. On Wednesday, I asked Bakst to weigh in with his thoughts on Tuesday night’s results. Here’s what he had to say:

I was a Cicilline supporter but even I was astonished by the size of his win, which was largely attributable to his zeal and ability to frame the issues as a choice between, in effect, good and evil, or “I’m fighting for you and he’s one of THEM.” Being a Democrat amid a Rhode Island Obama landslide was good planning!

Not to take anything away from Cicilline, but it also is evident that Doherty didn’t do himself any favors. Even though he had a year to work on it, he never mastered the art of skillfully and smoothly handling interviews and debates. He should have run more biographical ads early on to inoculate himself from Cicilline attacks that defined him. Most of all, he should have run ads that better outlined what he wanted to do in Washington and how he proposed to improve the lives of Rhode Islanders – and pounded home the idea that as a Republican in a GOP-controlled House he would be able to accomplish more than a Democrat.

I have no animosity toward Doherty and he was always nice to me. Despite Doherty’s campaign weaknesses, and despite my being a Cicilline backer, there were times when I actually thought Doherty would win or that Cicilline’s best hope for survival lay in the redistricting that made the contours of the district more favorable to him than they were last time around. I would bet you that many others in the Cicilline camp also were nervous.

If I were a functioning journalist, circulating on the front lines and to some extent behind the scenes, I likely would have had a truer understanding of what was happening. But all I had to go by were publicized polls that showed Cicilline in trouble – the last one showing him with only a 1-point lead and with heavy unfavorables and with the Cicilline campaign offering no specific figures to dispute the findings. And the national Republicans were pouring money into this Democratic district, which suggested that the GOP smelled victory. Plus The Providence Journal, which these days endorses Democrat after Democrat, endorsed Doherty, something that seemed sure to be an attention-getter.

Cicilline put himself in a hole with his 2010 comment about the “excellent” shape of Providence’s finances, an act for which he expressed contrition in 2012. But the larger moral of the story seems to be this: Campaigns, at least successful campaigns, are more about the future than the past, something Cicilline recognized and exploited brilliantly. The opponent Cicilline faced was not Perfection, it was Doherty, and Cicilline made voters appreciate that he, more than the Republican, was the guy they could count on to voice their concerns and protect their interests in Washington, and I congratulate him – indeed, I emailed him directly to congratulate him – for accomplishing such a knockout.

As for 2012 General Assembly results, I don’t know enough to comment in depth. It has been obvious for many, many years that the fewer Republicans in the legislature, the more difficulty the GOP has in recruiting good candidates, or candidates, period. Conversely, it also has long been obvious that the larger the Democratic caucuses are, the more unwieldy they become, with the ever-present prospect of factionalism within the party. Leaders don’t need me to tell them to beware of intra-party plotting.

Also, there is something to be learned from under-financed independent Mark Binder’s impressive, though unsuccessful, showing against Democratic House Speaker Gordon Fox. Leaders are by definition in high-profile positions and when they mess up, or voters think they are messing up, they can suddenly find themselves very vulnerable at the polls.

Chart: How Cicilline won – his support grew in 10 cities, towns

November 7th, 2012 at 1:17 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Even those who never wrote off David Cicilline were surprised by his emphatic victory on Tuesday.

The incumbent Democrat beat Republican Brendan Doherty by more than 12 points – doubling his margin over John Loughlin in 2010 – as he managed to improve his performance in half the 19 communities of Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District.

A huge amount of the credit goes to Cicilline himself, a natural politician who ran two winning races over the last 18 months: his 2011 campaign to keep other mainstream Democrats from challenging him in the primary, and his 2012 campaign to win back voters unhappy about Providence’s finances.

But as Cicilline himself would surely admit, much of the credit also goes to President Obama and Mitt Romney, for waging a campaign that highlighted the significant differences between the two parties and reminded local Democrats and Dem-leaning independents why they dislike the GOP.

For evidence of that, check out this chart comparing Cicilline’s share of the vote across the 1st District in his two elections. In 2010 he lost Woonsocket 46-49; on Tuesday he won it 55-39. His margins improved to 78% in Central Falls and 76% in Providence. And even in places Cicilline lost, he didn’t get blown out – his loss in Cumberland, Doherty’s hometown, only worsened from 42-54 to 39-56. Take a look:

Cicilline on the stump for Election Day, wants to win Barrington

November 6th, 2012 at 1:53 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Tim White

Democratic Congressman David Cicilline was taking nothing for granted on Election Day as he faces the toughest fight of his political career against Republican Brendan Doherty in Rhode Island’s 1st District.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, Cicilline was stumping alongside Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts at the Hampden Meadows school polling place in Barrington, a city he lost by just 36 votes in 2010. “I’m determined to win it!” the Democrat declared. He’d just come from Bristol, an East Bay community he won by a comfortable 544 votes two years ago.

Cicilline said his campaign’s get-out-the-vote efforts Tuesday are focused on Democratic strongholds such as Woonsocket, Providence, East Providence, Central Falls and Newport, though he emphasized that he wants to win votes everything he can.

The congressman said he was heading next to Cumberland – Doherty’s hometown – and North Providence, where he planned to meet up with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, whose re-election campaign team has given significant assistance to Cicilline’s. The polls close at 8 p.m.

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

• Related: Late cash pours in for Cicilline, Doherty from companies, pols (Nov. 5)

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story misstated when the polls close.

Late cash pours in for Cicilline, Doherty from companies, pols

November 5th, 2012 at 3:22 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Tens of thousands of dollars continue to pour into the campaign coffers of Democratic Congressman David Cicilline and Republican challenger Brendan Doherty as Election Day draws near in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District.

Cicilline, who was at a significant financial disadvantage to Doherty as of Oct. 17, appears to be getting significantly more last-minute cash than his opponent as individuals and corporate political action committees – some far from Rhode Island – try to swing the race.

Cicilline has received contributions in recent weeks from PACs associated with a number of companies: Textron ($2,000), Citizens Bank ($1,000), Entergy ($1,000), General Dynamics ($2,000), Verizon ($3,000), Honeywell ($2,500) and CDM Smith ($2,000). Doherty got $1,000 from Home Depot.

Cicilline also got PAC money from organized labor: the Service Employees International Union ($5,000), UNITE HERE ($3,000) and the Rhode Island AFL-CIO ($1,000). Doherty received no union money.


Cicilline win hinges on Obama, Whitehouse, Clinton, Kennedy

November 2nd, 2012 at 4:56 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

If David Cicilline were running right now in a midterm election, with its typically smaller and more conservative electorate, he’d probably be toast. Luckily for him, this is a presidential year – and he’s still the Democrat in a heavily Democratic congressional district.

In 2010, Cicilline won 81,269 votes out of 160,569. Two years earlier, with Barack Obama topping the ticket, Cicilline’s predecessor Patrick Kennedy won 145,254 votes – out of 211,702. And that was before redistricting made the 1st District even more friendly to Democrats.

The 1st District electorate of 2008 was 32% bigger than the 2010 electorate, and the Democratic vote total of 2008 was 79% higher. Everybody expects Cicilline to do worse than Kennedy did – but how much worse?

A Republican hasn’t won a U.S. House seat in Rhode Island in a presidential year since Ron Machtley in 1992, and he was the incumbent. An argument in Doherty’s favor is that Machtley won as a challenger in 1988 even as Rhode Island backed Michael Dukakis for president; on the other hand, that was 24 long years ago and Machtley was part of a winning ticket (John Chafee won re-election, too).


Cook Political Report moves Cicilline-Doherty back to ‘toss-up’

November 1st, 2012 at 4:59 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Is the political momentum shifting back to Brendan Doherty in the 1st Congressional District race? The Cook Political Report thinks so.

The influential Washington-based election forecaster shifted its 1st District rating back to “toss-up” on Thursday, two days after the new WPRI 12 poll showed Congressman David Cicilline down to a one-point lead.

Cook editor David Wasserman explained his reasoning (emphasis added):

In early October, polling on both sides had begun to show Cicilline pulling away from GOP former State Police Superintendent Brendan Doherty in a stunning reversal from most numbers all year. But with less than a week to go, Cicilline’s lead seemed to have evaporated once again. Republicans credit a brutal NRCC ad hitting Cicilline’s work defending a child molester and a murderer in court more than two decades ago, and also argue President Obama won’t match the 67 percent he received here in 2008. The DCCC has spent $279,000 and the House Majority PAC chipped in with $103,000 over the last week, while the NRCC has dumped in $294,000. Cicilline’s chances of winning a second term may now depend on Independent David Vogel siphoning enough of the vote to allow the incumbent to prevail with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Cook has changed its rating on the race multiple times this cycle, first moving it from “Likely Democratic” – meaning it was basically uncompetitive – to “toss-up” back in March, then two weeks ago moving it to “Lean Democratic” based on increasing pessimism among Republicans.

This week’s WPRI 12 poll shows Cicilline at 43% and Doherty at 42%, with 8% of voters still undecided. Election analysts at the Sabato Crystal Ball, Roll Call and National Journal upgraded Cicilline’s chances of holding onto his seat after his emphatic primary victory Sept. 11.

Undecided voters in Cicilline-Doherty race are a diverse group

November 1st, 2012 at 11:31 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The 1st Congressional District race looks headed for a photo finish: this week’s WPRI 12 poll shows Democrat David Cicilline at 43% and Republican Brendan Doherty at 42%, with 8% of voters still undecided.

So who are those 8%?

“With the undecided voters, there’s no one group where they’re from,” said WPRI 12 political analyst and pollster Joe Fleming after the two of us examined the data from our Oct. 24-27 survey of 300 likely voters. (The margin of error is plus or minus 5.66 points, and larger for subgroups, so caveat emptor.)

One characteristic that does stick out: 11% of women are undecided, compared with only 6% of men. “That could be good for Cicilline because he’s winning that group,” Fleming said. On the other hand, by definition these are women who haven’t been convinced by the Democrat’s pitch so far.

Other than that, the undecideds are a highly heterogeneous group.

Between 8% and 9% of voters in each of the poll’s three age groups – young voters (18 to 39), middle-aged voters (40 to 59) and older voters (60 or older) – are undecided. The group includes 8% of independents, 8% of Democrats and 4% of Republicans.

These Rhode Islanders may be more hesitant than the average citizen to make up their minds: 18% of voters who haven’t decided between Obama and Romney for president also haven’t decided who to support for Congress, compared with only 9% Obama voters and just 4% of Romney voters.

Both side will be spending the final days of the campaign trying to present a message that pushes these voters in one direction or the other – and hope that, if the undecideds break heavily in one direction, they can make up for it with a solid ground game.

• Related: Poll: Cicilline clings to 1-point lead over Doherty (Oct. 30)

New WPRI 12 Poll: Cicilline 43%, Doherty 42%, undecided 8%

October 30th, 2012 at 5:54 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic Congressman David Cicilline is clinging to a wafer-thin lead over Republican challenger Brendan Doherty with just a week to go before voters head to the polls, according to an exclusive WPRI 12 poll released Tuesday night.

Read the rest of this story »

• Interactive: Check out the complete WPRI 12 poll results breakdown

Coming up at 11 p.m.: Whitehouse vs. Hinckley, Langevin vs. Riley.

Cicilline, Doherty attacked in new party-funded TV commercials

October 30th, 2012 at 1:56 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Both national parties dropped new TV attack ads Tuesday in a last-minute effort to bolster the campaigns of Democrat David Cicilline and Republican Brendan Doherty in the 1st Congressional District.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee moved first, releasing a 30-second spot that echoes Cicilline’s efforts to tie Doherty to the national GOP, suggesting he’d support allowing insurers to deny coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions and noting his general praise for Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

The National Republican Congressional Committee followed hours later with a brutal 30-second spot targeting Cicilline’s former career as a lawyer. “What do a child molester, a murderer and a violent attacker all have in common?” the narrator says over photos of mugshots. “Defense attorney David Cicilline.”

With the two candidates locked in a tight race, both party committees said last week they’d jump into the race with independent advertising campaigns of their own. The NRCC is spending $280,000 and the DCCC is spending $315,000. WPRI 12 will release a new poll on the race at 6 p.m.

Update: Doherty’s campaign released its own new TV ad late Tuesday afternoon, a 30-second positive spot called “What is Right” where Doherty and his wife, Michele, makes his closing argument to voters. The ad is a stark contrast to the hit on Cicilline released earlier by Doherty’s national GOP allies.

• Related: Cicilline vs. Doherty: New WPRI 12 poll drops tonight at 6 p.m. (Oct. 30)

Cicilline vs. Doherty: New WPRI 12 poll drops tonight at 6 p.m.

October 30th, 2012 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Sandy distracted Rhode Island for a bit, but as of this morning the election is just one week away.

What better time for a new WPRI 12 poll? Our new survey of 600 likely voters in Rhode Island will be released starting at 6 p.m. tonight with brand-new findings on who’s ahead in the hotly contested 1st Congressional District race between Congressman David Cicilline and challenger Brendan Doherty.

We’ll also have new poll results for president (Obama vs. Romney), U.S. Senate (Whitehouse vs. Hinckley) and the 2nd Congressional District (Langevin vs. Riley vs. Collins). And we’ll share the results of three other questions testing Rhode Islanders’ opinions on the state’s business climate, its K-12 education system and whether Lincoln Chafee deserves a second term as governor.

Check back at 6 p.m. for the first round of results here on and live on WPRI 12.

New Republican poll gives Doherty 6-point edge over Cicilline

October 27th, 2012 at 4:38 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Republican Brendan Doherty’s team thinks he’s now leading Democratic incumbent David Cicilline in the 1st Congressional District. Unsurprisingly, Cicilline’s campaign strongly disagrees.

A survey commissioned by the Republican’s campaign and released Saturday afternoon shows Doherty at 45%, Cicilline at 39% and independent David Vogel at 6%, with 11% of voters undecided. The telephone interview poll of 400 likely voters was conducted Wednesday and Thursday. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.9 percentage points.

The poll was conducted by OnMessage Inc., a GOP consulting firm employed by Doherty’s campaign that previously worked for former Gov. Donald Carcieri. The question is whether it’s accurate. The OnMessage poll’s findings are far from outside the realm of possibility, but there are two reasons to be somewhat skeptical.

First, the firm didn’t release the party affiliation of its voting sample, which is a concern because its Sept. 13-14 poll may have interviewed too few Democrats to accurately capture the district. Second, the poll shows Mitt Romney winning 34% of the vote in the 1st District, which is 7 points better than his showing in the Sept. 26-29 WPRI 12 poll. It’s possible Romney has seen a significant bounce in the staunchly Democratic district over the last month, but far from certain.

The picture should become clearer when the new WPRI 12 poll is released next week. Roll Call’s Joshua Miller has more on the OnMessage survey. Separately on Saturday, Cicilline’s campaign sent out a recorded phone call with Bill Clinton endorsing Cicilline to 50,000 voters in the district. Listen here.

• Related: GOP to spend $280K on TV push (Oct. 26) | Dems counter GOP with $315K ad buy (Oct. 26)

Dems counter GOP with new $315K TV ad buy for Cicilline

October 26th, 2012 at 4:34 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The cost of the air war in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District jumped by more than half-a-million dollars on Friday as national Democrats moved to blunt their Republican counterparts in their push to save Democratic Congressman David Cicilline from defeat on Nov. 6.

A Democratic source confirmed Friday that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will spend $315,000 on a new round of TV commercials starting Tuesday to aid Cicilline. The Democrats’ buy was placed just hours after the National Republican Congressional Committee revealed it will spend $280,000 on a final round of commercials to help Doherty.

DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin declined to provide specific numbers but acknowledged a new ad was coming. “We won’t let Washington Republicans’ lies go unanswered and will continue to hold Brendan Doherty accountable for supporting the extreme Republican agenda,” Schwerin told on Friday afternoon.

Both the NRCC and DCCC purchases are “independent expenditures,” meaning they are not being coordinated with the Cicilline and Doherty campaigns directly and will be new spots produced by the committees.

Separately on Friday, the Rothenberg Political Report changed its rating on the 1st District in Cicilline’s favor, moving it from “Toss-up/Tilt Democrat” to “Lean Democrat.”

• Related: GOP to spend $280K on TV push (Oct. 26) | Doherty has twice Cicilline’s cash (Oct. 25)

National GOP to spend $280K on final TV push to oust Cicilline

October 26th, 2012 at 10:50 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

• Update: DCCC counters with $315K TV buy (Oct. 26)

Republicans have said for weeks they don’t believe the hype that Democratic Congressman David Cicilline is pulling away from GOP challenger Brendan Doherty. Now they’re putting their money where their mouths are.

The National Republican Congressional Committee confirmed Friday it will spend $280,000 on a final round of television commercials to air during the closing week of Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District race, enough to buy 1,000 gross rating points. The ads will air Oct. 30 to Nov. 6.

“We think Brendan Doherty is in a very strong position, and this expenditure demonstrates our financial commitment to holding David Cicilline accountable for his record, which is wrong for Rhode Island,” NRCC spokesman Nat Sillin told on Friday.

The national GOP’s decision to go up in the 1st District during the homestretch shows Doherty won’t suffer the same fate as John Loughlin, who lost to Cicilline in 2010 by only six points but never received significant support from the NRCC.


Doherty has twice as much cash as Cicilline for race’s last leg

October 25th, 2012 at 10:46 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Republican Brendan Doherty headed into the final three weeks of the general election campaign with a big financial advantage over incumbent Democratic Congressman David Cicilline as the two candidates’ spending passed $3 million combined.

Doherty’s campaign had $328,060 on hand as of Oct. 17, while Cicilline’s campaign had only $153,281 left, according to Federal Election Commission reports the candidates filed Thursday evening.

Cicilline raised more money than Doherty from Oct. 1 through Oct. 17, though not by much. The Democrat’s contributions totaled $121,058 while the Republican’s totaled $97,104, the FEC filings show.

Doherty’s campaign outspent his opponent’s during those two and a half weeks, however, spending $278,860 to Cicilline’s $208,739. Cicilline has spent $2.03 million since the start of 2011 fighting to keep his seat, while Doherty has spent $1.1 million in his bid to defeat the freshman lawmaker.


Newest Cicilline TV ad hits back at GOP on his legal career

October 23rd, 2012 at 10:44 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The air war continues in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District.

Democratic Congressman David Cicilline debuted a new television commercial on Tuesday morning called “Outrageous” that pushes back on charges his Republican challenger Brendan Doherty made in the tough “No Surprises” spot that began running last week. Cicilline’s new ad was apparently finished in the last 24 hours: it quotes a Monday Roll Call article saying “Republicans have gone nuclear on Rep. David Cicilline.”

“When it’s time to push that button, we’ve seen campaigns take one of two tactics: a testimonial from a sexual assault victim criticizing the opposition candidate, or, as in this case, both Republican and Democratic candidates have accused each other of harboring sympathies for pedophiles,” Roll Call’s Abby Livingston wrote in an analysis of Doherty’s latest ad.

A Republican source said Cicilline’s campaign is spending $162,000 on TV commercial time from Tuesday through Sunday. Cicilline’s spokeswoman declined to comment on the record. The new ad is a coordinated buy partly paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

In an email to supporters Tuesday, Cicilline campaign manager Eric Hyers blasted the Republican attacks as “vile.” He also said the company raised significantly more in recent days than the $40,000 goal set by Cicilline in an email appeal he sent supporters last week.

Doherty has reserved $202,000 in TV advertising time for the final two weeks of the race, but campaign manager Ian Prior said last week Doherty will increase that if the Republican beats his fundraising goals. Federal filings show the National Right to Life PAC spent $3,544 on a mailer backing Doherty.

A WPRI 12 poll last month showed Cicilline at 44%, followed by Doherty at 38% and independent David Vogel at 6%, with 10% of voters still undecided. Doherty had more than twice as much cash as Cicilline on Sept. 30. The candidates debated live for the first time a week ago on WPRI 12.

Cook moves Cicilline-Doherty to ‘Lean Dem,’ GOP ‘pessimistic’

October 18th, 2012 at 3:04 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The Cook Political Report has joined a chorus of other forecasters in Washington, D.C., by changing its rating on Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District race from tossup to “Lean Democratic.”

“Like Lazarus, Cicilline appears to have risen from the ranks of the political dead,” Cook editor David Wasserman wrote Thursday. He cited the district’s strong Democratic tilt and the unorthodox campaign of Anthony Gemma, whom Wasserman described as “unstable,” as factors helping Cicilline.

“It’s still not over, but Republican strategists are increasingly pessimistic,” Wasserman concluded.

Election analysts at the Sabato Crystal Ball, Roll Call and National Journal have also upgraded Cicilline’s chances in recent weeks. The rating change by Cook comes on a busy day in the 1st District, following a report that Doherty has pared back his TV ad reservations and an appeal from Cicilline to his supporters for an additional $40,000.

A WPRI 12 poll last month showed Cicilline at 44%, followed by Doherty at 38% and independent David Vogel at 6%, with 10% of voters still undecided. Doherty had more than twice as much cash as Cicilline on Sept. 30. The candidates debated live for the first time Tuesday on WPRI 12.

• Related: Cicilline seeks $40,000 to fund ads | Doherty pares back TV reservations (Oct. 18)