Dee DeQuattro (@DeeDeQuattro)
Buddy Cianci wins this week as it seems like the Jorge Elorza campaign might be imploding. Elorza with the new momentum of some of Brett Smiley’s supporter behind him seemed like a strong contender in the Democratic Mayoral Primary until his shoplifting charge was revealed.
Please accept my bumble apologies
Is it a big deal that Elorza shoplifted when he was 18? No, not at all. In fact most people probably sympathized with him. We all did dumb stuff when we were teenagers the problem isn’t that he shoplifted, it is that he plagiarized Central Falls Mayor James Diossa’s apology. That is about as insincere as it gets. The Elorza Campaign told GoLocalProv that the same advisor wrote both letters. When in doubt blame it your staff, I guess. Elorza wants to lead the city he is going to have to do better than that. The shoplifting charge was not really even a public relations nightmare -- it was a tiny little blip that a successful man like Elorza could have easily put behind him. What became a public relations nightmare for him, is this apology. You can blame the staff all you want but at the end of the day the buck stops with the candidate.
Dances with polls
Elorza’s Democratic opponent Michael Solomon is taking it all in. Earlier this week he released his “internal polling” saying he is the only one that can beat former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci who is running as an independent. Well, okay... but the problem is that Solomon’s poll didn’t seem all that credible, especially since Republican Daniel Harrop’s name was misspelled as “Harrup.” Not to mention, if the numbers are accurate, Solomon only has himself with a 1% advantage with a 4% margin of error and more than a dozen undecided. Maybe he should have kept those results to himself.
Judgement of Solomon
Elorza still has a shot if he can turn out voters on Election Day and he is likely to be able to do that since Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is leading the Democratic ticket and the Latino community is likely to turn out to vote for the Taveras/Elorza ticket. Buddy Cianci probably looks at Elorza as his biggest competition because Elorza will have the most inroads in the Latino community and that would cause more trouble to Cianci’s candidacy than Solomon who enjoys name recognition. When it comes down to it what is more of a household name; Cianci or Solomon?
Meanwhile at the top of the ballot, Gina Raimondo is holding strong. Hands down she led the WPRI-TV debate this week appearing the most on her game and the most well versed on the subject matter. She responded to attacks about her “Wallstreet” background well and made it clear she is a Rhode Islander, and has never worked on Wall Street. Although, Taveras shot back at Raimondo for investing in Wall Street.
Clay Pell who continued his “I’m staying positive vibe” but did take on Taveras’s accusations about his resume and claimed he had real leadership experience from his time in the Coast Guard. He said if Taveras had served one day in the military, Taveras would understand leadership, and the experience of veterans.
Taveras missed a golden opportunity. He should have responded to Pell that some of the best military leaders did not translate into the best politicians, and vice versa. For instance, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a great military leader but was never considered a strong president. In fact, Eisenhower’s Vice President Richard Nixon had a strong leadership role under the Eisenhower Administration. Eisenhower was brilliant military leader but he didn’t know how to handle politics. Taveras could have fired back sighting to his real world experience as a leader and noted that just because he has not been in the service he has experienced other real world hardships. Taveras could have noted that he is from a working family, and Pell isn’t, and Taveras has led the city of Providence through a massive budget deficit. Pell has never led a city. Taveras should have also pointed out that the fact that he is not a veteran does not mean that he is discrediting any of the work of the men and woman who have fought for our nation. At this point he could have referenced back to his own veteran’s plan, if he is elected governor.
Raimondo skirted the whole issue of Pell’s resume--and she should--since Pell’s candidacy is hurting Taveras much more than it is hurting her.
Seth Magaziner aligned himself with Bill Clinton this week, taking a stab at his opponent Frank Caprio who brought Clinton to Rhode Island in 2010 to support his own candidacy. Caprio said he understands Magaziner’s friendship with Clinton, but this election is about real ideas for Rhode Island. Funny, that’s not what Caprio said in 2010 when he brought Clinton here. Either way, the Clinton campaign stop grabbed headlines for Magaziner and raised the candidates profile. No to mention it was a slight to Magaziner’s opponent Caprio.
Old dogs, old tricks
Lastly, Ken Block and Allan Fung went at it again on the ABC6 debate. This is getting pretty old. Block accused Fung of being a career politician and Fung fires back saying Block doesn’t have enough experience to be Governor and can’t even read a budget. Fung latched onto Block’s tax returns saying he is the only candidate for governor to not release his returns. Block fired back at Fung’s leadership of the police department.
Fung scored this week when he announced that he hired the number 2 of the Rhode Island State Police, Lt. Col. Winquist, to head the Cranston Police Department. First off, Fung is likely to get some points with State Troopers for this hire and throughout the public safety community. Lt. Col. Winquist, now chief Winquist is well respected. This is a good move for the department and people looking on throughout the state can see that Fung chose a strong candidate to lead the troubled department.
On a local level Democrat Ed Doyle’s campaign may have had a boost this week as his opponent Representative Deborah Fellela’s husband was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing credit cards from people’s mailboxes and making charges on them. Although people were aware that the lawmaker’s husband was in trouble this reminder right before the primary might be bad news for Fellela.
Labor of love
That said, Happy Labor Day weekend. Enjoy the last unofficial weekend of summer and get ready for the final countdown before the primary. Expect to be inundated with campaign calls, door knockers, and honk and waves. ‘Tis the season.
Dee Dequattro is a WBOB political columnist and reporter for ABC 6 (WLNE)
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