Dee DeQuattro (@DeeDeQuattro)
Introducing PULSE ON POLITICS: a breakdown of the week in Rhode Island politics. See who finished out the week on top, and who had the week they'd much rather forget.
The residents of the East Bay probably had the best week politically this week as the representatives from the East Bay area had a huge win Thursday night when tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge were stripped from the budget. Now, the burden will be spread throughout the state through higher inspection costs and a slight increase on the gas tax. The East Bay delegation deserves some serious props for this. The tolls had already been put into place and they still managed to take on the system and eliminate what they saw as an unfair burden on themselves. Now the rest of the state will help manage the cost of bridge repair as well.
Although Ken Block's week started rough with an attack ad his supporters have turned lemons into lemonade. Ken Block’s supporters get kudos this week for rallying around their candidate as the fist negative ad of the season, “the Blockheads” ad was released. You can find some of the die-hard folks have changed their Facebook profile pictures to avatars of themselves with “Blockheads.”
Meanwhile Allan Fung’s team is likely to be the subject of the next politicheck because of that ad. In some sense it’s good to see Fung trying to be tough, in another it is a littler too soon to be so negative.
While Fung is getting tough on Block, Taveras is getting tough on graffiti. Not a bad move for the Mayor because it makes it look like he is cleaning up the city. Not to mention, Taveras gets kudos for being the first candidate to roll out a Veteran’s Plan. Not a bad move considering Rhode Island has the second most redeployed National Guard per capita in the country.
Speaking of veteran’s issues and getting tough, the little-known Cormick Lynch, remember the young Marine running for Congress against Congressman Cicilline as a Republican, has released a video. He chastises President Obama for his military leadership and his handling of the VA scandal. It’s good that Cormick is trying to get out there but if the kid is serious he needs to start campaigning in the community and start campaigning against Cicilline not just Congress as a whole. Not to mention he is going to need more than veteran’s issues on his campaign platform if he plans to make any headway in the race.
Then there is Gina Raimondo, who is trying to get…. soft. First she released the commercial about her father who recently passed away and now she has a commercial featuring her children riding bikes and talking about her economic plan. Clearly an attempt to make Raimondo appear softer and more motherly to voters. The commercial is cute and let’s face it we would all rather see kids than politicians, but its also pretty tame. Good thing because we all remember last time a politician used their kid in and ad in Rhode Island: #HudsonHinckley . Problem is some people think Raimondo’s softer side, the trading of recipes, and the constant reminders that she is a mother is getting old…fast. However, that’s the vocal minority, Raimondo has the right idea, it’s all about branding and she needs a new brand in order to prevail in the primary.
Clay Pell didn't have a good week. When you dump over $2 million dollar into your own campaign and the latest poll has you only polling 10% higher then the candidate with just over $30 in his campaign cougher you know you are in trouble. Meanwhile the Providence Journal/WPRI Poll has the two other Democrats, Taveras and Raimondo leading the way. Arguably Pell has not yet begun to spend the money he has loaned to his own campaign but at the same time when you have a name like Pell and you are still polling that low there is a problem. One of his main problems is that while people may recognize the name they don't know anything about Clay Pell himself. Pell needs to get out in the community more, get on T.V. and start making more of an effort to introduce himself to the public.
The poll also showed one other thing. No one is paying attention to the down-ticket races. When it comes to the Treasurer race Frank Caprio lead in the poll over Seth Magaziner and Ernie Almonte but more than 65% of primary voters said they didn't know who they are going to vote for. This speaks to the how the smaller races are largely ignored in the mainstream media and how mainstream people don't really pay attention to politics.
Dee Dequattro is a WBOB political columnist and reporter for ABC 6 (WLNE).