governor’s race

Brown University shaking up its political polling operation

July 24th, 2014 at 11:39 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Brown University is working on a reboot of its closely watched Rhode Island political polling operation, WPRI.com has learned.

James Morone, a political science professor who took over from Marion Orr this month as director of Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy & American Institutions, confirmed that he is working to hire one or more new staff members to conduct the polls.

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Clay Pell getting traction in Democratic gov primary

July 21st, 2014 at 1:48 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Could Clay Pell win the Democratic nomination for governor on Sept. 9?

No small number of people have scoffed at that suggestion. But with 50 days to go before the primary – and more than $1 million in Pell TV ads saturating the airwaves – there’s reason to think the 32-year-old political newcomer has a real, if still unlikely, shot at victory.

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RI governor hopefuls have already spent $2M on TV ads

July 14th, 2014 at 5:27 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The campaign to become Rhode Island’s next governor is already getting quite expensive.

The five major candidates for governor have bought $2.1 million worth of television advertising since mid-May, according to an internal campaign tracking document obtained by WPRI.com. The lion’s share of that money – $1.9 million – has been spent by the three Democrats: Gina Raimondo, Clay Pell and Angel Taveras.

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Q&A: John Sides on what really matters in Campaign 2014

July 7th, 2014 at 9:09 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

john SidesWho says political scientists are stuck in the ivory tower? In recent years, blogs like The Monkey Cage have helped popularize poli sci research, taking an academic approach to the 24-hour news cycle and debunking long-held myths about government and elections.

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, a Monkey Cage contributor and the co-author (with Lynn Vavreck) of a fascinating new book, “The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election.” Via email, Sides talked with me about what his research shows will really impact this year’s election in Rhode Island.

There are always books published soon after a major election that try to tell the story of how one side won and one side lost. What’s different about “The Gamble” from other campaign postmortems like “Game Change” or “Collision 2012″?

Other campaign postmortems do an excellent job using their access to campaigns to tell us why campaigns made the decisions they did. I think “The Gamble” helps to answer a different question, which is whether those decisions actually affected voters. To answer that question, you need the tools of social science, such as quantitative data and the ability to test hypotheses and rule out alternative explanations.

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RI Republicans endorse Fung for governor over Block

June 26th, 2014 at 10:25 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Republican Party voted Thursday to endorse Cranston Mayor Allan Fung as the party’s favored candidate for governor this year, choosing him over Barrington businessman Ken Block, a newcomer to the GOP.

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5 takeaways from Tuesday night’s Republican RI gov. debate

June 17th, 2014 at 10:51 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Ken Block Allan Fung June debateThe two Republican candidates for governor – Allan Fung and Ken Block – met Tuesday night for their first TV debate of the primary campaign. For a full recap of what they said, check out Dan McGowan’s full story on WPRI.com. The entire video of the whole 60-minute debate is posted on WPRI.com here.

Here are five quick takeaways from this second primary debate of the season. (And here are five takeaways from the Democrats’ debate if you missed them.)

1. This primary is already very heated. The Democratic candidates were disappointingly polite when they debated last week; not so the Republicans. Right from Tim White’s first question – which, granted, was about the “Blockheads” ad – Allan Fung attacked Ken Block relentlessly for supporting Barack Obama and failing to oppose Obamacare early and often. Block responded by saying Fung was once a registered Democrat who donated to Democratic politicians, and by questioning the mayor’s stewardship of Cranston. WPRI 12 political analyst Joe Fleming thought Fung came out on top in the first half – no small achievement since he, unlike Block, had never done a prime-time TV debate before – but that Block got the better of the mayor in the second half; he literally stunned Fung into a brief silence when discussing the Cranston police scandal. Block on the other hand never really seemed rattled, though the flip side of that is he seemed uncharacteristically low-energy at times. This hasn’t hit Cicilline-Gemma levels of negativity yet, though: each man did a classy job when asked to compliment his opponent.

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Watch: The entire June 10 RI Democratic primary debate

June 11th, 2014 at 11:10 am by under Nesi's Notes


5 takeaways from Tuesday night’s Democratic RI gov. debate

June 10th, 2014 at 11:05 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Raimondo Taveras Pell June 2014 debateThe top three Democratic candidates for governor – Angel Taveras, Gina Raimondo and Clay Pell – met Tuesday night for their first TV debate of the primary campaign. For a full recap of what they said, check out Dan McGowan’s full story on WPRI.com. The full video of the entire 60-minute debate is online here.

Here are five quick takeaways from this first primary debate of the season.

1. Nobody bombed. Supporters of the three candidates will point to the best moments each of them had and the occasional stumbles of their rivals, but the truth is there didn’t appear to be any really bad moments that will become a major post-debate headache for their campaigns. Particularly in the first debate, when the candidates are still trying to get their sea legs, they likely have the Hippocratic oath in mind: “First, do no harm.” As WPRI 12 political analyst Joe Fleming put it, “I would say they all held their own tonight. But nobody had a knock-out punch.”

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Watch Newsmakers: Political roundtable analyzes new poll

June 8th, 2014 at 12:53 pm by under Nesi's Notes


WPRI/Journal Poll: Taveras still leads Raimondo; Pell slips

June 3rd, 2014 at 5:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The tight race between Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Treasurer Gina Raimondo for the Democratic nomination for governor has barely budged since last winter, but their opponent Clay Pell has lost ground, an exclusive WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll released Tuesday shows.

The new survey of 506 Rhode Island Democratic primary voters shows Taveras still in the lead at 33%, with Raimondo still a close second at 29% and Pell a distant third at 12%. More than one in five voters – 22% – haven’t decided whom they’ll support in the Sept. 9 primary. Perennial candidate Todd Giroux is at 1.6%.

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Clay Pell pitches free tuition at CCRI in ed package

April 30th, 2014 at 11:55 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The grandson of the former U.S. Senator whose landmark legislation opened the door for millions of low-income Americans to attend college is proposing Rhode Island overhaul the way its students pay for higher education.

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Dems sign ‘People’s Pledge’ to limit spending in gov race

April 28th, 2014 at 10:21 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Democratic candidates for Rhode Island governor said Monday they have reached an agreement to limit outside spending during the campaign, a deal that could significantly limit the influence of Super PACs and other special-interest groups this year.

Known in politics as the “People’s Pledge,” the agreement requires any candidate who benefits from an outside group’s advertisement to contribute 100% of the ad buy to a charity selected by their opponent within three days of the ad’s discovery. In the event that two candidates benefit from the ad, they will each contribute 50% of the cost to the third’s candidate’s charity of choice.

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Gov candidate Fung wants to scrap education board

April 24th, 2014 at 9:49 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung on Thursday pledged to make sweeping changes to Rhode Island’s education system, unveiling a plan that would scrap the state’s two-year-old Board of Education and require the education commissioner to report directly to him.

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Ahead of Easter, RI governor hopefuls discuss their faiths

April 18th, 2014 at 12:01 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It’s Holy Week and Passover for Christians and Jews around the world, and among those commemorating the solemn religious periods will be the five major candidates for Rhode Island governor, all but one of whom say they’re Christians.

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Most gov candidates oppose NECAP, support testing

March 13th, 2014 at 7:28 am by under General Talk, Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – All but one of Rhode Island’s major gubernatorial candidates have found something they agree on: The NECAP standardized test should not be part of the state’s high school graduation requirements.

Democrats Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Clay Pell as well as Republican Cranston Mayor Allan Fung all said Tuesday they oppose tying results on the test to a high school diploma, but indicated they aren’t completely against the use of standardized testing in education.

Businessman Ken Block, who is challenging Fung in the Republican primary, said he supports the graduation requirements that are already in place, which include the use of the NECAP – short for the New England Common Assessment Program – for the classes of 2014, 2015, and 2016 before moving to another assessment beginning the following year.

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Taveras proposes new job-training program at CCRI

March 11th, 2014 at 11:15 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras on Tuesday put forward a proposal to have the Community College of Rhode Island offer up to 2,000 Rhode Islanders specialized job training tailored to the needs of individual companies.

Gina Raimondo quickly dismissed the Taveras plan as just “baby steps,” which led the Taveras campaign to accuse the treasurer of “trying to score cheap political points.” Republican Ken Block, meanwhile, said both Democrats want “more big government business as usual.”

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• Related: Raimondo rolls out plan to boost RI manufacturing (March 10)


Myrth York, former Taveras ally, backs Raimondo for gov

March 5th, 2014 at 8:30 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The woman who made three unsuccessful runs for governor of Rhode Island is throwing her support behind a new contender for the job.

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Steve Jobs’ widow to co-host Raimondo fundraiser in Calif.

March 4th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s gubernatorial campaign is getting support from Silicon Valley royalty.

Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, will co-host a fundraiser for Raimondo on March 25 in Palo Alto, Calif., along with SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, who is married to Facebook executive and “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg, and David Crane, a former advisor to Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who has backed changes to public pensions in the Golden State.

“Gina represents a dynamic new generation of Democratic leaders – she helped usher in progress for Rhode Island by adhering to key principles that have steadily guided her career: creativity, tenaciousness, and listening well,” the invitation, obtained by WPRI.com, states. Suggested contributions are $250 to $1,000.

The Raimondo event is part of an Election Speaker Series organized by Emerson Collective, a nonprofit founded by Powell Jobs, according to the invitation. Powell Jobs gave a maximum $1,000 donation to the treasurer’s campaign last September, while Crane has given Raimondo $2,000 since 2012 and Goldberg has given her $1,000, according to R.I. Board of Elections records.

Raimondo’s campaign confirmed the event but declined to say how long the treasurer will be in California or whether she will hold other events while she’s on the West Coast.

• Related: Clay Pell loans his campaign $1M; Gina Raimondo has $2.5M (Feb. 2)


Chart: Comparing Raimondo, Fung and Taveras on pensions

February 18th, 2014 at 12:39 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Three of Rhode Island’s major candidates for governor this year – Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras – have all struck deals with union members and retirees over the last two years to reduce the shortfalls in the pension funds for which they’re responsible.

So how much did they save?

In dollar terms, Raimondo obviously achieved the highest savings: a $3.9 billion cut in the state’s unfunded liability under the terms of last week’s proposed settlement, compared with a $186.4 million reduction from Taveras’s settlement and a $37.4 million reduction from Fung’s settlement. But that’s not really a fair comparison, since the two mayors were dealing with significantly smaller total liabilities.

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New WPRI/Projo Poll: Taveras 31%, Raimondo 27%, Pell 15%

February 12th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Treasurer Gina Raimondo are locked in a tight battle for the Democratic nomination for governor, with Taveras holding a slight lead but one in four primary voters still undecided, an exclusive WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll released Wednesday shows.

The new survey of 503 likely Rhode Island Democratic primary voters puts Taveras on top at 31%, with Raimondo close behind at 27% and political newcomer Clay Pell further back at 15%. An even larger share of primary voters – 25% – haven’t decided whom they’ll support in the Sept. 9 election.

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• Interactive: Dig into the full results and crosstabs for the new WPRI/Journal poll


New WPRI/Projo Poll: 46% of primary voters back pension law

February 11th, 2014 at 5:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi and Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Fewer than half of Democratic primary voters in Rhode Island support the 2011 pension overhaul championed by one of the party’s leading candidates for governor, Treasurer Gina Raimondo, an exclusive WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll released Tuesday shows.

The new survey of 503 likely Democratic primary voters also shows 70% of them think it’s important that a candidate for governor has prior elective experience, a key question for Raimondo rival Clay Pell, while 55% think Providence’s financial problems have been only somewhat solved by Mayor Angel Taveras, another Democratic candidate for governor, since he took office in 2011.

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• Interactive: Dig into the full results and crosstabs for the new WPRI/Journal poll

Tomorrow at 5 a.m. – find out whether Raimondo, Taveras or Pell holds the lead among primary voters.


Pell loans his campaign $1M; Raimondo has $2.5M

February 2nd, 2014 at 4:15 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democrat Clay Pell has jumped to the front ranks of Rhode Island’s best-funded politicians after putting more than $1 million of his own money into his campaign for governor, as his rivals Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Mayor Angel Taveras continue to sock away six-figure sums.

Here’s a rundown of how much money all the candidates for statewide office had as of Dec. 31.

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• Related: Ex-Enron trader Arnold gave $100K to pro-Raimondo PAC (Jan. 31)


Watch Newsmakers: Clay Pell, Democratic gov candidate

February 2nd, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Clay Pell, flanked by Kwan, kicks off campaign for RI gov

January 28th, 2014 at 12:57 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Herbert Claiborne “Clay” Pell IV, a political newcomer with a famous grandfather and an even more famous wife, jumped into Rhode Island’s race for governor Tuesday with a promise to bring a new approach to state government.

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Pell, senator’s grandson and Kwan’s husband, running for gov

January 27th, 2014 at 4:02 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By David Klepper

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s already contentious race for governor is about to get a lot more complicated with the entry of Clay Pell, the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell and the husband of Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan.

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Watch Newsmakers: Treasurer, gov hopeful Gina Raimondo

January 26th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

A correction: during the show, I said Kate CoyneMcCoy of American LeadHERship was on stage at one point during Treasurer Raimondo’s kickoff event; CoyneMcCoy was there but not on stage. I regret the error.


Taveras, Raimondo back higher minimum wage; GOP opposed

January 23rd, 2014 at 4:48 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Both announced Democratic candidates for governor agreed Thursday that Rhode Island should raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. They just don’t see eye to eye on when to do it. But the two Republican candidates disagree.

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• Related: Watch gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo on Newsmakers (Jan. 23)


Chafee pays himself back $200K; campaign debt at $1.41M

January 20th, 2014 at 7:06 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced back in September that he wouldn’t seek a second term in 2014, but he’s only starting to make a dent in repaying himself $1.61 million in personal loans to his 2010 campaign.

Chafee’s campaign account cut the governor a check for $200,000 on Dec. 2 to reimburse him for some of the personal loans he made to his gubernatorial campaign in 2009 and 2010, according to a filing Monday with the R.I. Board of Elections. That cut Chafee’s outstanding personal campaign debt to $1.41 million.

Chafee spent $2.5 million on his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, slightly less than Democrat Frank Caprio, who spent $2.7 million but came in third. Republican John Robitaille, who came in second, spent $603,833.

Chafee and his wife, Stephanie (Danforth) Chafee, are known to have a large fortune. The Chafees’ net worth was at least $38 million in 2006, according to his final U.S. Senate financial disclosure form, which at the time made Chafee the seventh-richest senator, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The governor didn’t raise a penny during the final fundraising quarter of last year, according to the filing. His campaign war chest stood at $164,967 on Dec. 31, down from $379,208 on Sept. 30, after the loan repayment and campaign expenses including $2,349 for holiday cards and payments to campaign consultants Amy Gabarra and William Facente.

Gabarra, a prominent Democratic fundraiser, is now raising money for Democrat Clay Pell.


Raimondo puts focus on jobs, education at campaign kickoff

January 13th, 2014 at 10:20 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – Treasurer Gina Raimondo kicked off her campaign to become the next governor of Rhode Island on Monday morning with a pledge to reinvigorate the state’s economy by using the same approach she took in spearheading the 2011 pension overhaul. She also unveiled a series of policy proposals.

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Watch Newsmakers: Political roundtable breaks down the poll

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