ken block

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 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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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 The entire video of the whole 60-minute debate is posted on 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.


Fung under fire for lobbying against flood insurance bill

May 29th, 2014 at 5:55 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Ken Block is blasting his Republican gubernatorial opponent, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, for lobbying against a bill that would have notified homeowners they weren’t covered for flood insurance when he was working for MetLife in the 2000s.

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Watch Newsmakers: GOP gov candidate Ken Block

May 18th, 2014 at 5:28 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Chart: How RI’s unemployment tax system is out of whack

May 5th, 2014 at 10:51 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

It’s common knowledge that Rhode Island levies some of the highest taxes in the country to pay for unemployment insurance benefits.

Less well-known is the fact that the state’s unemployment system is structured so a small number of Rhode Island businesses can get their costs subsidized by the vast majority of other employers.

The chart below, obtained form the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, tells the tale.


WPRI 12, Projo will host 2 TV governor debates in June

April 28th, 2014 at 10:19 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Get out your calendars.

WPRI 12 and The Providence Journal announced Monday they will host two Rhode Island gubernatorial primary debates in June. Democrats Angel Taveras, Gina Raimondo and Clay Pell will debate on Tuesday, June 10 at 7 p.m.; Republicans Allan Fung and Ken Block will debate the following Tuesday, June 17, also at 7.

The debates will be moderated by Tim White, with yours truly and Journal political columnist Ed Fitzpatrick joining him to ask questions. Both debates will be held at PPAC and air live on WPRI 12.

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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Republican Ken Block calls for state tax overhaul

February 25th, 2014 at 1:46 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – If he’s elected governor, Ken Block is going to have a busy first year in office.

The Republican candidate for Rhode Island’s top job unveiled an ambitious plan to overhaul the state’s tax structure Tuesday, pledging to reduce the car tax, corporate tax and estate tax all in his first year as governor.

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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)

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)

Raimondo, Taveras back Chafee budget; Fung wants lower taxes

January 16th, 2014 at 4:48 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The two announced Democratic candidates vying to succeed Gov. Lincoln Chafee expressed initial support for the governor’s final budget proposal Wednesday night, while a leading Republican hopeful called on state leaders to consider lowering taxes this year.

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, both Democrats, said they still want to dig in to Chafee’s $8.5 billion budget proposal, but agreed that the governor’s plans to spend an additional $38 million on public schools, freeze tuition at state colleges and invest in infrastructure are all good starting points in an election year.

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Watch Newsmakers: GOP governor candidate Ken Block

November 17th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

Republican Allan Fung enters Rhode Island governor’s race

November 4th, 2013 at 11:36 am by under Nesi's Notes

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.

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Raimondo grows war chest over $2.3M; Taveras at $759K

November 1st, 2013 at 12:14 pm by under Nesi's Notes

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.

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Q&A: Orr explains how Brown University’s poll was conducted

October 9th, 2013 at 12:38 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Marion_OrrBrown 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 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.


Brown U. Poll: Raimondo leads Taveras in Dem gov primary

October 9th, 2013 at 9:20 am by under Nesi's Notes

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.

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Joe Paolino throwing $500-a-head fundraiser for Mayor Taveras

September 17th, 2013 at 6:53 pm by under Nesi's Notes

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…)

Taveras has teachers’ union, ed reform support as he eyes bid for governor

September 17th, 2013 at 1:31 am by under Nesi's Notes

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.

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Republican Robitaille eyeing 2014 governor’s race

August 5th, 2013 at 2:53 pm by under Nesi's Notes

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.

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Raimondo, McKee, de Ramel, Caprio lead political money race

August 1st, 2013 at 1:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

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.

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• Related: DreamWorks CEO, Facebook executive among Raimondo donors (July 31)

Raimondo’s campaign war chest jumps to $2M; gov bid looms

July 31st, 2013 at 6:02 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Chafee_Raimondo_TaverasTreasurer 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.


Education board votes to extend Deborah Gist’s contract

June 7th, 2013 at 5:02 am by under Nesi's Notes

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.

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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.


Ken Block to run for governor again in 2014

May 21st, 2013 at 10:34 am by under Nesi's Notes

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.

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Gov. Chafee backs Ken Block in battle with Speaker Fox

May 10th, 2013 at 11:07 am by under Nesi's Notes

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.

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Chafee releases report on waste, fraud in Medicaid, food stamps

March 13th, 2013 at 2:43 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

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.

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• Related: Read Ken Block’s full 16-page report (PDF)

Block blasts Raimondo for hiring campaign operative as chief of staff

February 21st, 2013 at 2:20 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

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

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.