By Dan McGowan
CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – The Republican mayor of Rhode Island’s third-largest city officially launched his campaign for governor Monday, promising to create 20,000 new jobs and freeze college tuition rates for four years beginning in 2015.
Describing himself as “respectful, result-oriented and fiscally responsible,” Cranston Mayor Allan Fung pledged to be a hands-on governor who will spearhead an economic development strategy that will be centered on lowering taxes, improving public schools, fixing the state’s aging infrastructure.
By Dan McGowan
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – R.I. General Treasurer Gina Raimondo is now sitting on a campaign war chest that is more than three times the size of her closest rival’s as she prepares for a likely run for governor in 2014.
Brown University released a new opinion survey on Wednesday morning showing Treasurer Gina Raimondo leading Providence Mayor Angel Taveras in the Democratic primary for governor. The findings are strikingly different from those of the poll Taveras commissioned and released last month that put the mayor 19 points ahead.
Marion Orr is director of Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy and Frederick Lippitt Professor of Public Policy & Political Science. He talked with WPRI.com on Wednesday about how the new poll was conducted. The interview has been lightly edited and annotated for length and clarity.
What are the headlines to you out of today’s new Brown poll?
The headline out of this poll is that Gina Raimondo is leading pretty good among likely voters in the Democratic primary. This is a fairly good lead, I think, within the margin of error.
Now, the lead narrows a bit – that is, her lead narrows a bit but she still leads – when you focus only on those people who tell us that they typically are Democrats. But she still leads. But the lead narrows.
What I’m suggesting here is that when you add in, say, independents who could perhaps vote in a Democratic primary, her lead increases. So I think that’s one thing.
By Ted Nesi
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Treasurer Gina Raimondo has the early advantage over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras in next year’s Democratic primary for governor, but Taveras is a stronger candidate against Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, according to a new poll released Wednesday by Brown University.
By Dan McGowan
A former mayor of Providence who ran unsuccessfully for governor is raising money for Mayor Angel Taveras as he gears up to run for the state’s top job in 2014.
No, not Buddy.
Joseph Paolino, who ran Rhode Island’s capital city from 1984 until 1990 before losing a Democratic primary for governor to Bruce Sundlun, is hosting a $500-a-head fundraiser for Taveras at Circe, the popular downtown restaurant located two blocks from Paolino’s real estate business. (more…)
By Dan McGowan
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Just three years after a national labor leader accused Providence Mayor Angel Taveras of trying to “crush unions,” political analysts say the first-term Democrat’s hopes of becoming governor may hinge on how much support he wins from organized labor.
Taveras, who succeeded David Cicilline as mayor in 2011, is widely expected to jump into next year’s race for governor, where he’s likely to square off against General Treasurer Gina Raimondo in the Democratic primary. Incumbent Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who recently became a Democrat, announced earlier this month he won’t seek re-election.
By Dan McGowan
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Just when you thought he was out, the Republican runner-up in the 2010 governor’s race on Monday said he is considering running for the state’s top job again in 2014.
John Robitaille, who finished two percentage points behind Gov. Lincoln Chafee in a four-way race in 2010, said Chafee’s decision to join the Democratic Party and Moderate Party standard bearer Ken Block’s flirtation with the Republican Party have prompted him to reassess his options.
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)
Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s campaign war chest now tops $2 million, about three times more than her second-closest rival in the 2014 governor’s race, as the first-term Democrat continues to be a fundraising juggernaut.
Raimondo raised $399,420 from April 1 to June 30, finishing the second quarter with $2.06 million on hand, her campaign disclosed Wednesday in a filing with the R.I. Board of Elections. She had $1.7 million on March 31.
As a comparison, former Treasurer Frank Caprio, who was a prodigious fundraiser in his own right ahead of his 2010 gubernatorial bid, had $1.4 million on hand at the same point in the last election cycle.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Raimondo’s fellow Democrat and another potential candidate for governor next year, raised $157,705 during the second quarter to finish with $692,590 on hand, his campaign disclosed in its Board of Elections filing. Taveras had $560,779 on March 31.
By Dan McGowan
WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – It will be two more years for embattled R.I. Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.
The R.I. Board of Education voted Thursday to allow Gist to continue guiding the state’s public schools until 2015, a deal that will throw her square into the middle of a Democratic primary for governor next year that is expected to be contentious.
It’s nearly official: Lincoln Chafee will be a Democratic candidate for governor in 2014.
Chafee spokesman Christian Varieka told WPRI.com 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.
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.
By Tim White
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Moderate Party founder Ken Block will once again be the face of his party’s 2014 gubernatorial run, according to a website that went live this morning.
By Dan McGowan
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – R.I. Gov. Lincoln Chafee on Thursday sided with former campaign rival and Moderate Party Chairman Ken Block after Block ripped House Speaker Gordon Fox’s plan to restructure the state’s troubled Economic Development Corporation.
By Dan McGowan
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A company hired to investigate waste and fraud in the state’s welfare programs found problems including prisoners and deceased people receiving food stamps, retailers purchasing EBT cards and Section 8 housing recipients underreporting their benefits, according to a report released by Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s office Wednesday.
• Related: Read Ken Block’s full 16-page report (PDF)
By Dan McGowan
The sparring ahead of the 2014 governor’s race has begun.
A day after Rhode Island Public Radio reported that likely gubernatorial candidate General Treasurer Gina Raimondo is bringing in veteran political operative Andrew Roos as her chief of staff, Moderate Party Chairman Ken Block accused Raimondo of hiring a campaign manager on the state’s dime.
“If this person has no relevant experience for running the treasurer’s office and is there mainly as a campaign manager then that person’s salary should not be at taxpayer expense,” Block, a potential candidate for governor himself, told WPRI.com.
Roos, who managed Myrth York’s unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2002, is leaving a Google’s elections and issue advocacy division in Washington D.C. to join Raimondo’s staff. Joseph Pratt, Raimondo’s current chief of staff, has been moved to deputy treasurer/chief of administration.
But Block said campaign managers should be paid out of campaign finance accounts.
“It would be absurd for taxpayers to have to pay a large salary for a campaign operative with no relevant executive experience for one of our statewide elected officials,” Block said. “Last I knew the treasurer had plenty of campaign cash to pay for these services.”
Raimondo spokeswoman Joy Fox did not respond directly to Block’s comments, but said the treasurer is ”committed to having the strongest, most diverse team possible to help deliver results for Rhode Islanders.”
Although she has deflected questions about her political future, Raimondo has established herself as the early favorite in the governor’s race, ahead of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and current Gov. Lincoln Chafee. The Democrat had more than $1.3 million in her campaign account as of Dec. 31, more than Chafee, Taveras and Block combined.
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.
The list of Rhode Island politicians seriously considering a run for governor in 2014 is getting longer.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, former candidate John Robitaille and Moderate Party founder Ken Block all suggested in interviews with WPRI.com Tuesday that they could make a bid for the state’s highest office.
They join three Democrats – Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and former Auditor General Ernie Almonte – on the list of individuals who may be on the ballot in 2014. (Almonte has already launched his campaign.) And of course there’s also incumbent Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent who says he expects to run for a second term.
Republican Fung, mayor of the state’s third-largest city, has a bigger campaign war chest than anyone else in the GOP and is running unopposed for a third term this November.
Among the many shocking facts that I learned on the campaign trail last year was the fact that there are more than 100,000 illiterate adults in Rhode Island (data from The Poverty Institute).
Rhode Island desperately needs manufacturing jobs to provide employment to our seriously undereducated work force. Governor Chafee’s proposed tax scheme is certain to cause our already decimated manufacturing base to shrink further as some of our remaining manufacturing businesses bolt for less expensive locales.
It is important to remember that Rhode Island’s once vibrant manufacturing industry has withered away due to competition from other regions of our country, and competition from around the world.
Governor Chafee’s tax increases will further deteriorate our already decimated manufacturing industry. To illustrate how the Chafee tax scheme will hurt manufacturing businesses, I will use my traffic-signal manufacturing business as an example.
For starters, Governor Chafee is proposing a 1% tax on “purchases for manufacturing purposes.” Everything that goes into my traffic signals is sourced from other companies. My business assembles the final product and ships the signals out around the country. So, my margins will now shrink by 1% – a huge competitive disadvantage in a highly competitive market.
This 1% tax has a more sinister aspect to it. I source the printed circuit boards for my traffic signals from a Rhode Island-based company. This company has to buy a lot of small electronic components then mounts those components on a circuit board – they are manufacturing my boards for me.
So, the cost of my in-state-purchased, made-to-order circuit boards will go up by 1% because the manufacturer will pass the cost of the 1% materials on to me – and then I will have to pay a 1% tax on the finished circuit board because my business integrates the board into a larger assembly.
I now have a powerful incentive to look for a manufacturer for my circuit boards outside of Rhode Island. I can save 1% on the cost of my boards by doing so and I can save 2% on the boards by moving my manufacturing business out of the state!
The majority of states do not tax the raw materials used in manufacturing. More importantly – our immediate neighbors do not have this tax.
If Rhode Island has a stated goal to increase the number of manufacturing jobs in the state, the proposed Chafee tax scheme takes the entire industry in the opposite direction.
We know that consumer behavior can be modified through tax policy. Witness the existing tobacco taxes and the proposed tax on sugary drinks for prime examples. We aren’t going to get new manufacturing businesses to locate in Rhode Island by increasing the cost of doing business in the state. We have already witnessed a mass exodus of vital manufacturing businesses to lower cost regions. Why can’t our leaders see that by increasing costs further that we will only cause more of these businesses to leave our state?
Additionally, other elements of Governor Chafee’s tax plan will result in a significant increase in the cost and headache attached to doing business in Rhode Island.
For example, the governor proposes taxing a whole range of goods and services used by businesses. Some of these goods and services are provided by Rhode Island-based companies, and some not. Where the company providing the good or the service is not based in the state, it would be up to the purchasing Rhode Island-based company to track, file paperwork and pay a “use tax.” This is a substantial new regulatory burden to place on Rhode Island businesses (although it may stimulate some additional spending on accounting services).
Business owners have a choice on where to locate their businesses. Ultimately, most owners will choose a location that provides their business with the best chance of achieving long-term success. Rhode Island, which has for years been suffering from not being competitive in terms of the cost of doing business, will become substantially less competitive with the Chafee tax scheme.
Tax policy and regulatory burdens absolutely drive business decisions regarding where to locate a business.
Governor Chafee has to decide if he wants to encourage the creation of manufacturing jobs or the destruction of manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island. In the same way that you cannot lose weight while gobbling every sweet and fatty food in sight, you cannot encourage the creation of manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island while making Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry even less cost competitive than it is today. •
Ken Block is founder of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island and a former candidate for governor.
Ted Nesi will return on Friday.
Lincoln Chafee spent $2.5 million over 19 months to win the Rhode Island governor’s office, including more than $1 million in the final four weeks, an analysis of campaign finance records by WPRI.com shows.
More than half that money came straight out of the Chafee family’s bank account. The independent former senator loaned his campaign a total of $1.61 million over the course of the campaign, according to his final campaign finance report, which was filed Tuesday with the Board of Elections.
Chafee spent four times as much as the man who came in second, John Robitaille. The Republican nominee spent a comparatively paltry $603,833 but managed to come within 8,660 votes of defeating Chafee.
Moderate Ken Block spent $500,709, almost as much as Robitaille, but came in a distant fourth, though he did crack the 5% mark to keep his nascent party on the ballot.
And then, of course, there’s Frank Caprio.
The Democrat’s candidacy suffered an epic collapse in the final weeks of the campaign. He’d already spent well over $2 million as of Oct. 25, and almost certainly added to that in the final week of the race.
Caprio hasn’t filed his final report yet – he has until 11:59 tonight to send it in. I’ll have a new post, more analysis and charts (of course!) once all the numbers are in.
Update: Lincoln Chafee spent $2.5 million to win the election. Frank Caprio spent even more to lose. Read my full story on WPRI.com.
Tim White foreshadowed this in a story earlier this month, but now it’s official – former U.S. Attorney Robert Corrente has resigned as chairman of the fledgling Moderate Party, Ken Block said during this morning’s taping of “Newsmakers.” The full story is up on WPRI.com.
The full episode of “Newsmakers” will be posted online later today and will air on TV at 5:30 a.m. Sunday on both WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. (Football takes its regular time slot this time of year – set your DVRs.)
The big headlines from our new WPRI 12 poll last week were Frank Caprio’s seven-point drop, which put Lincoln Chafee in the lead for governor, and John Loughlin’s rapid gain on David Cicilline in the space of a month. But there were other interesting nuggets buried in the poll’s crosstabs – here are a few that stuck out to me.
• Is Lincoln Chafee the Democrat in the governor’s race? Looking at the coalition he’s put together, you could make the case. Chafee is either winning or nearly tied with Frank Caprio among some of the Democratic Party’s core consistencies.
Chafee is winning 52% of union households to Caprio’s 22%. The pair are tied among women at 29%, and statistically tied among younger voters (ages 18 to 39), with Chafee at 35% and Caprio at 34%. Among registered Democrats, Caprio’s lead over Chafee is just four points, 45%-41%. In the Democratic-leaning 1st District, Chafee leads Caprio 33%-27%.
The problem for Caprio is he hasn’t made up for that with new support elsewhere – Chafee leads him among men, 37%-23%; independents, 34%-13%; and seniors, 31%-28%. Among Republicans, Caprio only leads Chafee by one point, 12%-11%, while John Robitaille has 67%.
• Who’s persuadable at this point in the governor’s race? Only a few groups still have a double-digit number of undecided voters: independents, 17%; women, 14%; people ages 40 to 59, 14%; and 2nd District residents, 12%. They are taking their time, too – the number of undecideds in those groups was not statistically different from our previous poll a month earlier.
• Moderate Party founder Ken Block gets his strongest support from independents, at 7%. He’s also polling at 6% – two points above his overall rating – among men, younger voters, and Republicans.
• Unlike Caprio, David Cicilline is hanging on to traditional Democratic supporters, which is helping him keep a six-point lead over John Loughlin. Cicilline is winning women, seniors, and union members. But independents have deserted him over the past month, giving Loughlin 58% to Cicilline’s 28% – a 24-point gain for Loughlin and a 10-point loss for Cicilline, with 14% still undecided.
• Will Bob Venturini be our own Ralph Nader? Elizabeth Roberts should thank her lucky stars that the Pawtucket cable TV fixture is still in the lieutenant governor’s race – if his 5% support were added to Bob Healey’s 35%, the lieutenant governor’s race would be a statistical tie. It’s also a tad surprising that Healey is only winning 50% of Republicans – did they not get the message when Heidi Rogers dropped out? Or do they dislike the message?
• We also found 16% of likely voters still unsure who to support in the lieutenant governor’s race. With Roberts at 42% and Healey at 35%, which way those undecideds break could decide the outcome. Democrats have rallied to Roberts, but 22% of independents and 18% of Republicans still haven’t made up their minds.
• Ken Block’s fellow Moderate, attorney general candidate Chris Little, is doing far better than his party’s founder, polling at 12% in a five-man field. Little is winning 16% of middle-aged voters, 15% of independents and 13% of men. That may help explain why front-runner Peter Kilmartin, a Democrat, has trained his fire on Little in addition to Republican Erik Wallin.
• Congressman Jim Langevin does best among younger voters – those aged 18 to 39 – at 65%. The older you are, the less you like Langevin – he gets 55% of those ages 40 to 59 and 49% of those ages 60 and older. Langevin also has 23% of Republicans.
• The campaign to change Rhode Island’s formal name by deleting “and Providence Plantations” has gotten very little traction, with just 16% of voters saying they will approve the switch.
• Caprio is winning 14% of voters who say his association with “old-style politics” will prevent them from voting for him. Chafee is winning 8% of voters who say his sales tax proposal will, again, prevent them from voting for him. Yet Robitaille is only winning 1% of voters who say his service in the Carcieri administration will prevent them from voting for him. Weird.
The Projo’s Kathy Gregg has the numbers showing how much money the four main gubernatorial candidates had left in their campaign war chests as of Monday. Here are the numbers filed with the Board of Elections:
- Caprio: $326,461
- Chafee: $126,100
- Block: $27,546
- Robitaille: $16,421
There are lots of additional details in Gregg’s story. Keep in mind that any of the candidates – read: Chafee – could decide to pour more of his own money into the race (or tap his donors again) with five full days left before voters go to the polls. Caprio and Robitaille will also benefit from whatever money their respective parties decide to spend on each man’s behalf.
Polls show Lincoln Chafee is the front runner in the race to be Rhode Island’s next governor. But you’d never have guessed that watching tonight’s WPRI gubernatorial debate, as Frank Caprio faced a concerted assault from all sides.
It was inevitable Caprio would face tough questions in the wake of Shoveitgate, but I was surprised by how much Republican John Robitaille – along with independent Lincoln Chafee and Moderate Ken Block – trained their fire on the Democratic nominee.
Robitaille – who gave a feisty and effective performance – was particularly scathing, chastising Caprio for Shoveitgate like a father to a son: “You’re not acting like a governor, Frank.” Later, when Caprio compared the investment return of Rhode Island’s pension fund favorably with those of other states’, Robitaille said it was “like saying the S. S. Minnow isn’t sinking as fast as the Titanic.”
Robitaille has been gaining in the polls over the past two weeks or so, according to both Rasmussen and internal campaign surveys, and if he wants to overtake Caprio to challenge Chafee he needs to win over the moderates and center-right voters who are still with the Democrat right now. He certainly did his best to make that happen tonight.
That dynamic left Caprio on the defensive, a tough place to be in a four-man debate. (Think of how different tonight might have gone if it had been just Caprio and Robitaille, or Caprio and Chafee.) All three of his opponents took shots at him during the first 20 minutes – even Block’s answer about suing the EDC included a swipe at the Democrat.
Caprio did his best and didn’t lose his cool. For me, the high point for Caprio was the poignant moment when he described his greatest regret as not spending enough time with the daughter he fathered as a teenager. For a candidate who has seemed almost robotic on the trail, it was a rare glimpse of the man behind the talk of jobs and kitchen tables.
What then of the front runner, Chafee? At times, Chafee almost seemed to be staying above the fray tonight – again, a surprising development with polls showing him out in front. Once again he cast himself as the optimistic candidate, emphasizing Rhode Island’s natural and manmade assets and the need for economic growth.
But Eyewitness News political analyst Joe Fleming told me after the debate he thought Chafee gave a markedly weaker performance than he did at our previous one at Roger Williams University. Chafee never offered up a regret when asked, for example, and sometimes meandered.
Ken Block was – well, Ken Block. He offered up enough one-liners and zingers to fill a Bob Hope Christmas special. He also emphasized his business and IT bona fides. But there were times he came off as a bit of a scold. “Oh my word,” he told Chafee at one point, “you’re not listening very well, are you?” Right now, Block’s main goal has to be ensuring he gets at least the 5% support needed to keep the Moderate Party a registered organization – which he should be able to do.
A few other quick thoughts:
• Caprio is now turning “shove it!” into his new campaign slogan. “If it takes telling someone to ‘shove it,’ I am going to tell them to shove it, because I am going to fight for Rhode Islanders every day up at that State House,” he said. Yes, we can!
• Robitaille bounced back and forth between conciliatory – pointing to his knowledge of labor relations to show he can work effectively with unions and praising Rhode Island Housing – and critical; he said he’d give the General Assembly “an ‘F’ – and that’s charitable,” adding that the Democratic-dominated legislature has “ruined the state” over the last 70 years. (Dems have held one or both chambers since 1941.)
• Chafee was a little retro tonight, mentioning both black-and-white TVs and Charles Dickens in his answers. He also used the Gettysburg Address for his sound check.
• On 38 Studios, Chafee pointed back to the highly critical Verrecchia report to explain why he is thinking about suing the EDC board – even though the current board was put in place specifically to deal with the problems identified in the Verrecchia report. (Verrecchia himself is on the EDC board now.) Later, Caprio said he would march down to the EDC next Wednesday if he gets elected to deal with the $75 million bond transaction if it still hasn’t closed – which is entirely plausible at the pace things are going. What would he say once he got there? And how would Keith Stokes respond?
• Frank Caprio’s campaign is glad to have Bill Clinton coming back to Rhode Island on Sunday to campaign for their man two days before the election. An aide told me it was in the works long before Shoveitgate, though the same person acknowledged he’ll have trouble getting people to believe that.
• Until the last week or two, Lincoln Chafee’s proposal to levy a 1% sales tax on exempt items had been the issue of the gubernatorial campaign. Tonight, it didn’t come up until 27 minutes in, and even then it wasn’t mentioned nearly as often as before. Any time Chafee isn’t talking about raising Rhode Islanders’ taxes is probably a positive for him.
• Gov. Donald Carcieri – remember him? – attended the debate in person, sitting with Robitaille’s campaign staff a few rows back from the front. Alas, he was too far away for me to see his reactions – but administration sources have made it clear he’s watching this campaign with great interest. Robitaille, for his part, loyally defended the outgoing governor – his former boss – while noting their different backgrounds (but not beliefs).
• No surprise that once again my pal Tim White acquitted himself well in the moderator’s job. By my count, this was Tim’s 2,743rd debate of this election cycle (and his last, except for Sean Bielat’s solo turn on Friday). Good questions from The Providence Journal’s Team of Eds – Fitzpatrick and Achorn – as well.
• Chafee had a line that I found funny, whether he meant it to be or not. Asked to grade the General Assembly, he said: “I’m not going to grade them, because I have to work with them.” Well, I assume if he was going to give them an A+ ahead of working with them, he probably would have said it.
• Caprio and Chafee had a nice moment after Chafee couldn’t come up with a regret but praised Caprio’s statement; Caprio turned to shake his hand, smiling broadly.
• Chafee is making a big play for Hispanic votes in these waning days of the campaign. He launched a Spanish-language website today, and said during the debate his first priority as governor would be getting rid of E-Verify. He got the endorsement of Providence en Español, too.
• Frank Caprio said his favorite book is “Lord of the Rings.” Who knew?
As I write this, it’s just past 9 p.m. on Tuesday night. One week from now, the polls will be closed and officials will be tabulating the votes to find out who Rhode Island’s next governor will be. WPRI will release our final poll of the campaign on Thursday evening, and I’ll be covering the last days right here on Nesi’s Notes. Then next Tuesday night, I’ll be here live blogging the results for WPRI.com as they come in – and of course we’ll have full coverage on TV, too.
In the meantime, one complaint we political reporters often hear is that there’s too much focus on the horse race, rather than substance, in the late stages of a campaign. With that in mind, I want to hear your questions about policies. What do you want to know about the gubernatorial candidates’ positions? Let me know at tnesi (at) wpri (dot) com and I will do my best to ferret out the answers.
The four men vying to become Rhode Island’s next governor – Moderate Ken Block, Democrat Frank Caprio, independent Lincoln Chafee and Republican John Robitaille – will meet tonight for our final televised debate of the fall campaign. And it promises to be a doozy.
The debate will air right here on WPRI.com from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and the first hour will be shown commercial-free on WPRI 12, as well. Once again, Tim White will be moderating with an assist from two Projo columnists, and I’ll be live-tweeting next to our WPRI.com debate stream via my Twitter feed. (And don’t worry Celtics fans, I’ll keep you posted about the opener while you do your civic duty.)
In the wake of Shoveitgate and Rasmussen’s Friday poll – and with just one week left before voters cast their ballots – this may be the most important debate of the race. I would be astonished if it stayed as sedate as the last encounter between the quartet on our airwaves just two weeks ago – if Frank Caprio and John Robitaille want to win, they can’t let that happen.
I’m particularly interested in Caprio’s strategy tonight as he fights a two-front war, trying to cut into Chafee’s support on the center-left while beating back Robitaille’s surge from the center-right. Here’s the long view of the contest’s dynamic, as captured by Rasmussen in its nine surveys since February (Ken Block was not always included):
Remember, too, that in a race with three strong contenders, it only takes a small share of the vote – say, 35% to 38% – to emerge as the victor and the next governor of Rhode Island. With Caprio and Robitaille splitting the anti-Chafee vote, Chafee can win if he holds onto the base of support he’s built up. That’s the reason Caprio’s people allegedly tried to get Robitaille to drop out of the race.
After the debate, I’ll post my impressions here on the blog – you can share your own in the comments – and we’ll have full coverage on TV at 10 and 11 and on WPRI.com. We’ll get a fuller picture of where things stand two days from now, when we release our latest WPRI poll by Fleming & Associates on Thursday evening.
(image credit: Josh Davis/WPRI)
Rasmussen is out with a new survey of 750 likely voters about the Rhode Island governor’s race, conducted on Oct. 21. Margin of error is plus or minus 4 points. Here are the results:
- Lincoln Chafee: 35%
- Frank Caprio: 28%
- John Robitaille: 25%
- Ken Block: 6%
- Not sure: 6%
The big headline is how close Democrat Frank Caprio and Republican John Robitaille are compared with Rasmussen’s previous survey on Oct. 4 – more good news for the Republican after yesterday’s announcement that the national G.O.P. is going to invest in his campaign. This is the first time Rasmussen has had Caprio under 30% since March. Chafee’s two-point gain is within the margin of error, and Robitaille is back where he was in May. Undecideds are steadily shrinking in number.
Here’s an updated version of my chart tracking Rasmussen’s results since it started polling the race in February (Block isn’t in here because Rasmussen only started including him recently):
The growing support for Robitaille helps explain why Caprio is going after him in a new mailing, as The Associated Press’ Eric Tucker reported earlier today:
The front of the mailing includes photos of Robitaille and the Statehouse and carries the headline, “John Robitaille is not ready to manage Rhode Island’s budget crisis.” It includes a quote from an August newspaper article in which Robitaille, while discussing his intention to surround himself with smart advisers, said, “I am not a budget guru.”
Robitaille campaign manager Mike Napolitano called the mailing ridiculous and said the quotes were taken out of context.
“I think it shows that they’re afraid of us,” he said, later adding that the campaign planned no negative ads of its own between now and the Nov. 2 election.
Today’s Rasmussen survey is the first new independent poll on the governor’s race we’ve gotten in two weeks, but it won’t be the last before voters cast their ballots. WPRI will release another poll conducted by Fleming & Associates between now and Nov. 2.
The gubernatorial candidates will meet for our last televised debate of the campaign next Tuesday night at 7 p.m. – it will be held at PPAC, and you can order free tickets here if you’d like to attend in person. Or you can watch at home and enjoy my patented live-tweeting.
Update: No surprise, Robitaille spokesman Mike Napolitano was in a good mood when I called him to ask about the new Rasmussen survey.
“We think it’s great,” Napolitano said. “We’re three points behind Caprio and it’s 6% undecided. And with all the money they’ve spent – especially all the money Caprio’s spent – he’s actually gone down. So obviously John’s positive message is resonating with voters.”
“This is an extremely close race,” he added. No argument there from me.
Update #2: The Block campaign will be glad to see its candidate above the 5% threshold required for the Moderate Party to stay on the ballot going forward.
It’s also been two weeks since the video game company picked its new location in Providence and the EDC got two favorable bond ratings for the $75 million loan guarantee. That cleared the way for underwriters Barclays and Wells Fargo to close the transaction by selling the bonds to private investors.
The formal signal that the process is coming to a close will be when the EDC sends the investors what’s known as the “private placement memorandum,” or PPM – the official document with all the legal fine print about the loan. That had been expected to be done by late last week, but EDC spokesman Michael Blazek told me today the document hasn’t been finalized and mailed yet.
Although I don’t know what the holdup is, I don’t have any reason to think things have gone awry – though originally the deal was supposed to close back in August.
Rasmussen is out with a new survey of 750 likely voters about the Rhode Island governor’s race, conducted on Monday. Margin of error is plus or minus 4 points. The results look a lot like those in Rasmussen’s last poll a little less than a month ago:
- Lincoln Chafee: 33%
- Frank Caprio: 30%
- John Robitaille: 22%
- Ken Block: 4%
- undecided: 10%
This is the fifth poll done in the last five weeks. For an overview of how things look across the various surveys, check out this post I did yesterday.
(h/t: Ian Donnis)