Politico: 2014 may launch Gina Raimondo on the national stage

January 7th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman report for Politico:

Prominent Democratic activists and women’s groups are determined to ensure the party fields a powerful female presidential candidate in 2016 ….

Privately, Democratic strategists acknowledge if [Hillary] Clinton chooses not run, the list of women who could plausibly run for president next time is relatively short. Several top Democrats mentioned Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York as potential candidates. Many liberal Democrats would like to see Warren run, but she has emphatically ruled out a campaign only a few years into her first Senate term.

What’s more, the 2014 cycle has the potential to vault more than a few Democratic women onto the national stage. National Democrats pointed to women attorneys general in California, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Illinois as potential breakout stars, as well as Rhode Island Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

Without a doubt, this is a big achievement on Raimondo’s part: getting her name included in elite speculation about the future leaders of the national Democratic Party from a perch that often barely gets noticed here in Rhode Island, let alone across the country. That sort of talent (and luck) is the stuff that national careers are made of; there’s a reason somebody like Josh Brumberger, who was previously a John Edwards aide, is now working for Raimondo.

That said, newspaper archives are filled with the names of future political stars who never made it big, and Raimondo faces plenty of risks. “Huge Question,” Dante Ramos, The Boston Globe’s deputy editorial editor, tweeted in response, “Will pension reform go over well with national Dems?” And even before that there’s the question of whether it will go over well with Rhode Island Dems in next year’s gubernatorial primary.

Indeed, one of the oddest things about Raimondo’s political strategy is how little she’s done to shore up her left flank since pension reform passed. If the pension law was her Sister Souljah moment – a time when she broke with her party’s orthodoxy and established her independent credentials – it would behoove her to start balancing it with some moments that play up her affinity for Democratic and progressive priorities. So far she hasn’t done much of that (payday lending being an exception), though there’s still plenty of time.

• Related: Gina Raimondo’s campaign war chest passes $1 million mark (Nov. 1)

Lobster, calamari and chowder at Cicilline fundraiser tonight

June 27th, 2012 at 4:40 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Congressman Cicilline is having the tastiest fundraiser ever tonight in Washington, Politico reports:

FRESH LOBSTER, CASH FOR CICILLINE: Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) will be feted with “lobster flown in fresh” among other New England delicacies at a fundraiser tonight at the D.C. home of Gary Jankowski and Michael Schaeffer. And Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is expected. Minimum contribution is $250, with “sponsor” level participation going for $2,500.

The invitation [pdf] describes the event as a “Taste of Rhode Island Reception” and says guests will be served “lobster flown in fresh this morning, Rhode Island-style calamari, and traditional New England clam chowder.” Host Jankowski is apparently a Realtor in D.C. who went to Boston College.

Cicilline’s campaign sent supporters an email blast earlier Wednesday that said the congressman is still $7,450 short of his fundraising goal for the second quarter, which ends at midnight Saturday.

• Related: Chart: The campaign finances of Cicilline, Doherty and Gemma (May 2)

Cicilline’s apology, Chafee’s horse-shoeing make the news

April 29th, 2012 at 9:33 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Rhode Island politicians are getting some media attention outside the state’s borders this Sunday.

First there’s Congressman David Cicilline, whose recent apology in an interview with Tim White makes Politico’s list of the “top 5 most memorable political apologies”:

The risk of admitting a major mistake is too much for most pols to chance, so when you see a public apology, you know the blunder had to be a whopper. And Washington — and the citizens of Rhode Island — just saw one from freshman Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who recently swallowed hard and apologized for making a highly misleading statement about the finances of the city of Providence on his way to Congress.

On a lighter note, Gov. Lincoln Chafee recalls his days shoeing Canadian horses in a Boston Globe column by Kevin Paul Dupont:

The job, said Chafee, gave him many skills, the direct ones he sometimes uses when his daughter’s horse needs a change of shoes. He is 59 now, and though not as quick with the rasp and hammer, he still feels he has a good touch with the tools and the clients.

“I could always get along with the horse, that’s key,” he said. “I could get under there and not have them go nuts on me.”

As for the fast and potted track of politics, his work long ago with hammer and hoof often helps there, too. Since putting his tools in storage, Chafee has been mayor of Warwick, R.I., a US Senator and, since January 2011, the governor.

“What’s similar is that it’s hard work,” he said. “If a trainer wanted me on Saturday or Sunday to shoe a horse because of a race, you had to do it, to keep your business. If you want to stay in politics, and they say there is a wake you should go to – and maybe you have other plans – you should really go to the wake. It’s what you do.”

Politico: Sheldon Whitehouse is 4th most-frugal in US Senate

January 31st, 2012 at 2:52 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

If U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse added trillions of dollars to the national debt, as PolitiFact declared “half-true” on Tuesday, it’s not because he spent the money on office supplies.

Whitehouse returned $1.45 million in unspent office funds to American taxpayers in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, which was nearly 24% of the $6.16 million he was authorized to spend, according to a new Politico analysis of Senate office budgets.

Whitehouse was No. 4 on Politico’s list of the most frugal U.S. senators, with only Richard Shelby of Alabama, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Jim Risch of Idaho proving thriftier than the first-term Rhode Island Democrat. Jack Reed was No. 22 on Politico’s list for giving back $807,962, or 13.11% of his $6.16 million in office funds.

“The office budget stats don’t necessarily play to stereotypes about fiscal conservatives versus Big Government liberals,” Politico’s Scott Wong noted, though he found evidence of “a philosophical divide in Congress about how much money lawmakers need to effectively represent their states and constituents.”

Both Reed and Whitehouse were far more frugal than their Massachusetts counterpart, John Kerry – he gave back $121,268, or just 1.85% of the $6.57 million he was authorized to spend. Massachusetts’ other senator, Scott Brown, wasn’t included in the analysis because he didn’t join the Senate until January 2010.

Cicilline’s troubles go national with Politico piece

March 29th, 2011 at 9:01 am by under General Talk, Nesi's Notes

It’s not just a Rhode Island story anymore.

The rapid deterioration in Congressman David Cicilline’s political fortunes since Providence’s financial crisis took hold – underscored by the 17% approval rating he had in last week’s Brown poll – made national news Tuesday morning in the form of a 1,400-word story in Politico.

As you can see at right, the article was splashed across the front of the Politics page of today’s paper, which gets distributed for free all over Capitol Hill. Right now it’s also featured about halfway down Politico’s well-trafficked home page.

“So much for the honeymoon period,” Politico’s Alex Isenstadt begins, before detailing Providence’s $110 million deficit, City Councilman John Igliozzi’s complaints, the Projo’s rough coverage, and Fitch Ratings’ critique.

Isenstadt interviewed quite a few familiar figures, including our own Eyewitness News political analyst Joe Fleming, as well as Victor Profughi.

On the critical side, he spoke with former Mayor Buddy Cianci; Cicilline’s 2010 opponents Anthony Gemma and John Loughlin; and new GOP chairman Ken McKay. On the supportive side, he talked with Cicilline predecessor Patrick Kennedy and Providence Democratic Party Chairman Kenneth Richardson.

One person Isenstadt didn’t interview: Cicilline himself. The congressman sent Politico a prepared statement.

There’s no doubt Cicilline is feeling the heat right now, and this story won’t help. But unless he gets a Democratic primary challenger, he still has more than a year and a half to go before facing voters – a long, long time in politics.

The question is whether these issues will continue to dog him – and whether they’ll help convince someone like retiring State Police Col. Brendan Doherty to jump into next year’s race.

Update: A reader points out it’s rather incomplete for Politico to describe Cianci as “Cicilline’s predecessor, an independent who now hosts a local talk radio program,” without mentioning he’s also been one of the congressman’s staunchest critics since getting out of jail.

(photo: Politico)

Rumor mill keeps Reed in defense secretary mix

February 28th, 2011 at 9:41 am by under General Talk

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he will step down at some point before the end of this year – and no matter what he says publicly, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed apparently hasn’t convinced insiders to stop suggesting he could be Gates’ successor.

The latest example comes from Politico, which throws Reed into the mix today:

The information vacuum has created a standing game of defense secretary roulette in Washington’s national security circles, where almost any potential name can seem like a sure thing or a long shot, depending on the day and the person offering it. One roster of potential candidates includes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has said she is not interested; Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent; Sen. Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat; Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; and John Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former deputy secretary of defense in the Clinton administration.

But just because some people are floating Reed’s name doesn’t mean he’s looking to take the job. The senator, who usually brushes aside these reports, said as much in September, the last time I asked him about SecDef rumors:

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed has ruled out becoming President Barack Obama’s defense secretary once and for all – not that he ever said anything otherwise.

“I am committed to serving the people of Rhode Island as their senator, and, as such, I am not interested in being Secretary of Defense,” Reed said in a statement sent to Eyewitness News a short time ago.

(A Beltway-based Nesi’s Notes reader pointed out to me that if Reed became defense secretary and Tom Donilon continued as national security adviser, La Salle Academy would be more or less singularly responsible for America’s national defense.)