By Dan McGowan
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Yet another Rhode Island mayor is seeking a promotion.
Democratic Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee on Wednesday formally launched his campaign for lieutenant governor, becoming the third municipal leader to announce he will run for statewide office next year.
By Ted Nesi
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The latest quarterly finance reports from Rhode Island’s state and local politicians were due to the R.I. Board of Elections by midnight last night, and the results offer a glimpse at who’s got an early advantage heading into next year’s campaign.
• Related: DreamWorks CEO, Facebook executive among Raimondo donors (July 31)
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.
By Dan McGowan
He hasn’t formally announced his plans for 2014, but Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee said he is still strongly considering becoming the first candidate to enter the lieutenant governor’s race.
“I continue to be focused on Cumberland issues like pension, OPEB, bond ratings, schools, etc., but I understand that state policy impacts our communities and see the lieutenant governor’s position as a spot that is positioned to influence policy that will positively impact our public schools, the fiscal health of our communities and Rhode Island’s business climate,” McKee told WPRI.com Monday.
McKee’s comments came following the launch of “Mayor’s for Marriage Equality,” a new coalition that supports legislation that would make Rhode Island the final state in the New England to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. The mayor said he is particularly interested in addressing the state’s stalled economy, which has limped out of the recession to post one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
McKee, who had just over $63,000 in his campaign war chest as of Dec. 2012, has made a name for himself in the state as an education leader, serving as chairman of Rhode Island Mayoral Academies. Despite his Wikipedia page, McKee said Blackstone Valley Prep, which serves students from Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln and Pawtucket, has outperformed traditional public schools on state standardized tests.
But McKee’s outspoken support for education reform—he supports the NECAP graduation requirement— means he’ll almost certainly have a union-backed opponent in a Democratic primary. To date, term-limited Secretary of State Ralph Mollis is the only other Democrat to have expressed interest in running for the office.
I joined Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and the Rhode Island Public Radio tag team of Ian Donnis and Scott MacKay for last week’s edition of Political Roundtable. The topics included Avedisian’s political future, education board confusion, budget chaos and more. Check out the 10-minute segment here.
And if you missed it two weeks ago, I was a panelist on Roundtable along with Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee. Check out the show here.
Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee says he won’t challenge Congressman David Cicilline in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District primary, putting to rest speculation he could try to wrest the nomination from the unpopular incumbent.
“Although it is nice to be mentioned as a possible candidate for U.S. Congress, I plan to remain in Rhode Island and work on local and state issues,” McKee told WPRI.com in an email Friday. “As I did in 2010, I will be asking Cumberland voters for their support for mayor in 2012.”
McKee, who considered running for Congress when Patrick Kennedy retired, was among the only mainstream Rhode Island Democrats still being discussed as a potential primary challenger to Cicilline. Cumberland is also the hometown of Republican candidate Brendan Doherty.
Without McKee in the race it appears the incumbent’s only primary opponent may be businessman Anthony Gemma, who must make a decision within two weeks under the terms of a merger agreement his company signed Thursday.
McKee won a fifth term as mayor in 2010, defeating independent David Iwuc 64% to 36%. He is widely viewed as a potential candidate for statewide office in 2014, possibly as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor or secretary of state.
McKee said he will continue to focus on education policy. “I am interested in being part of Rhode Island’s transformation,” he said. “As mayor I can continue to work on improving our public schools through the Mayoral Academies and work with municipal leaders to transform the way our town governments operate.”
• Related: Cook Political Report: Cicilline-Doherty race is now a ‘toss up’ (March 1)
(photo: Cicilline’s office)
By Patrick Laverty
If there is one point that Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee tries to get across in an interview, it’s that he’s just looking for fairness. It’s an issue that he’s been trying to get across to the General Assembly for some time now. We’ve heard in recent years about the fair-funding formulas for our cities and towns, but a major problem exists: the towns have differing reimbursement rates. And McKee feels those rates are not “fair.”
In 1998, the General Assembly passed a law that would phase out the motor vehicle excise tax over seven years, meaning Rhode Islanders would no longer be paying taxes on automobiles by 2005.
In 2002, the economy was turned upside down and the Assembly extended the length of the phase-out. A few years later, it was suspended indefinitely. Since then, most of us have felt the pain of more recent legislation that cut the exemption in many towns from $6,000 to $500.
That cut in the minimum exemption means fewer dollars for cities and towns, because they “are paid by the state for the lost taxes due to the exemptions” [pdf]. When state officials reduced the amount they will pay the cities and towns, the municipalities lost a great deal of revenue.
Why did the General Assembly do this? The answer is simple and has never been denied: to balance the state budget.
As much as some may disagree with balancing the state’s budget using local money, let’s deem that acceptable for now. But are the towns even being reimbursed fairly and equally? When you look at the numbers, it would appear not.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley recently told Chafee he should formally join the party of President Obama, whom Chafee endorsed in 2008. O’Malley floated the idea during a phone conversation they had about the plight of the menhaden, spokeswoman Elisabeth Smith told WPRI.com.
O’Malley is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, an umbrella group for the party’s 20 state executives.
Chafee, who won office in 2010 as an independent, doesn’t have a governors association. Asked if he is seriously considering the idea, the governor told WPRI.com through a spokeswoman: ”I’m happy where I am for now.”