Dee DeQuattro, WBOB Political Insider
There seems to be no clear winner or loser in the WPRI-TV gubernatorial debate. Each candidate seemed to hold their own and demonstrated clear differences.
Allan Fung seemed to catch Raimondo off guard when he accused her of poor oversight for her role as a Board Member at Rhode Island Housing, referencing recent mismanagement at the housing organization. Raimondo responded that she was not involved in the activities which led to an investigation and jabbed Fung back for his leadership of the Cranston Police Department.
Pretty cool moose
Moderate Candidate Bob Healey surprised a lot of people in the WPRI-TV Debate. Although Healey offered little to the way of comprehensive ideas he did come across as very common sense and pragmatic. He had a couple funny moments breaking up the tension between Raimondo and Fung. Healey also seems to be polling a lot higher then any one expected with such a late entry into the race. Healey is polling at 9% three points higher than Ken Block got in the 2010 election. It is impressive considering Healey has not dumped money into the race, has no television ads, and no campaign lawn signs. Then again it could be that Healey has been on the ballot consistently for more than a decade now.
Divided and conquered
The real loser here is Allan Fung. Anyone who thinks Healey is not hurting Fung is kidding themselves. Healey is taking 9% of the vote, at least half of that--if not more--would go to Fung. Healey will grab some Democrats who really want to see marijuana legalized but ultimately he will grab conservative leaning independents due to his Libertarian Politics. He certainly is not going to effect Raimondo’s base of women after the debate where he referenced the value of having a stay at home parent which is typically the woman.
Democrat Gina Raimondo is really playing up the girl power card with a video endorsement from Michelle Obama and a visit from Hillary Clinton today. Although, Fung did grab one endorsement from a prominent Rhode Island woman; Former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo. The Cranston native has taken to social media to push Fung’s candidacy and ask Rhode Islanders to support him.
Either way Raimondo is the true girl power candidate as Democrats are pushing for Rhode Island to Elect the First Woman Governor.
Meanwhile, Republican Dan Harrop essentially admitted he is not a real candidate when he cut a check to his Democratic Opponent Jorge Elorza. The check was symbolic. First off, it showed a united front against Independent Buddy Cianci and it sends a message to Harrop voters to vote for Elorza instead because that is probably what Harrop will end up doing.
While Harrop may have his reasons, it makes a joke of the political system and it highlights one of Rhode Island’s biggest problems “spoiler candidates.” Why can’t Rhode Island just have fair political races and let the person the voters pick get the job instead of having candidates enter the race to blind and distract the public from serious candidates. It is a fraud and an insult to voters but until voters become wise to it, it will not end.
Paying with fire
Meanwhile there is more drama brewing in Central Coventry after the Governor and the State Appointed Receiver told taxpayers in the fire district that they will be imposing a fire tax in the district in order to keep fire services. This is the very thing tax payers voted against causing the fire district to face the possibility of closing down. This brought the district back to court and now the local taxpayer group says that Attorneys for the state are threatening to go after the Fire District Board members for court costs and legal fees if they continue to battle this case in court. Looks like things are getting a little heated once again in Central Coventry.
Meanwhile, it is like bizarro world in the Lt. Governors Race where the Democratic candidate is taking typical conservative lines and the Republican Candidate it enjoying union support and is taking more traditional Democratic stand points on some issues such as the Health Care Exchange and Right to Work Laws. Although the two debates on WPRO seemed to cover more ground than the governor’s debate on WPRI, it is likely the candidates’ stark differences are lost on most people who will probably vote their party line in this race. Although if they were paying any attention they would recognize these two candidates are not you typical candidates.
Trick? or Treat?
There's just more than one week to go until the election and we are still waiting on the big October surprise that will change the direction of the race or the big “shove it moment.”
A lot can happen in a week in politics, especially in Rhode Island. So don’t be shocked as bombs may be flying this coming week. I’ll be here to tell you about them next week.