Most Rhode Islanders, who do not have some sort of umbilical cord connected to our government, want desperately to vote for a real reform-minded candidate for governor. Unfortunately, voters are disappointed every election cycle.
In every national ranking, the Ocean State is either dead last or close to it. Taxes in every category are among the highest in the nation and the goods and services we receive are substandard at best. Inevitably, every aspirant for the governor’s chair promises a streamlined and efficient administrative paradigm. However, after they take their oath, they exhibit the same go along to get along character of all of the predecessors.
“The Big Audit,” “An Obsession with Transparency,” “No More, I Know a Guy State” and “A Government Rid of Corruption” have all been slogans of governors whose righteous campaign promises eventually became empty rhetoric.
Nevertheless, the Rhode Island voter yearns for a political messiah every cycle. In this election season, hope still springs eternal.
The current Governor, Her Majesty Gina M. Raimondo-Moffit, is unwilling to abdicate her throne. Her Royal Majesty has not connected well with the common man. Often, Raimondo has conveyed contrived anecdotes meant to soften his supercilious image. These stories all coincidentally start with a casual expression of “Hey Guv”. The inescapable condescension in her manner has alienated many and has not increased her approval rating higher than the approximate 40 percent she won the office with.
Unrelenting photo opportunities, usually with children have been maddeningly pervasive during her term, as well as participating in national forums where Raimondo is showcased as a governmental magician who saved the Ocean State. Often Gina has made numerous attempts to shift blame and exculpate herself from anything that has gone wrong during her tenure. This has been her consistent modus operandi.
There is an ever-apparent lack of endearment in the governor’s general demeanor. In addition to that resulting alienation of voters, is the unfortunate reality of the UHIP debacle, the Cooler and Warmer catastrophe, the Truck Tolling scheme, the cyclical budget deficit, and the attraction of Dog and Pony show companies’ to Rhode Island favored with tax breaks and other incentives. All those efforts were in order to depict the governor as a political savior nationally.
Thus, it’s no surprise that other political pups can smell her vulnerability.
One of those opportunistic canines is former one-term Secretary of State Matt Brown. Brown has declared that he will challenge the incumbent in the Democrat primary.
Brown’s stated policies and principles are just slightly to the left of Chairman Mao. Apparently, there is no social problem that cannot be fixed in the Democrat’s mind with just a little more government intervention.
In Brown’s Little Red Book, the candidate wants to eliminate the plans for the Invenergy Power Plant in Burrillville. For that matter, he would like to reinvent Rhode Island power by requiring Rhode Islanders to primarily use Water, Wind and Solar. Perhaps, he wants us to return to riding horses.
Also, Brown has obviously seen the play “Hamilton” too many times. The candidate seeks to create a Rhode Island Investment Bank. Because a taxpayer backed bank has worked so well in the past. Remember RISDIC?
In order for Her Highness Gina to recapture the nomination of her party she will have to turn further left to beat Brown in the primary. Ah, there’s the rub! During the General Election period she will then need to reverse her turn ideologically to place herself in the moderate middle to curry favor with independents.
Additionally, if Brown mounts a significant attack, Gina will have to expend a great deal from those chests of gold she has been picking up from “Playboys” in Chicago and more recently from “Stars” in California. Therefore, she will have less political coin of the realm in the fall to use against the Republican nominee warring for her crown. Yet, considering Raimondo just collected 1.3 million for her campaign in the only first quarter of this year, I am not sure Brown’s challenge will erode much of her ad purchasing power.
Vying for the GOP nomination are three divergent candidates for the crown. They are mild-mannered Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, raging moralist House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, and former jewelry and wristwatch magnet Giovanni Feroce.
First there is Fung. Allan in appearance is the epitome of a competent CPA, or perhaps a life insurance sales rep, or maybe a corporate lawyer. However, inspirational would not be a word that comes to mind when meeting him. The mayor is a reliable go along to get along pol. His utterances so far in this election season have been boilerplate. Lowering property taxes, lowering business fees, lowering the sales tax, unifying business permitting departments, and lessening the burden of occupational licenses are tried and true rhetorical Republican themes which sound fine but never come to fruition. Repeating 40 year old empty campaign promises will not galvanize anyone. The so-called “Economic Policy Plan” should be referred to as “Yeah, we heard that before plan”.
Fung’s main competitor for the GOP nomination is House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan. Morgan is a true believer when it comes to good responsible government. She has tirelessly sought accountability in regard to UHIP and the blind items of the budget. Further, she has long advocated austerity measures especially in reference to funding road and bridge repair.
Morgan’s greatest problems are the need to raise enough money to make a decent run and the significant enmity felt by a great many members of the house toward her. If she were to prevail, it is unlikely she could get anything accomplished considering the constitutional weakness of the executive and her likely inability to get cooperation from the Democratic House.
Also, dark horse candidate Giovanni Feroce is vying for the GOP nomination. Feroce’s problems start with a legacy of very public debt and foreclosure difficulties. Conspicuously, begging the question if the candidate could not adequately manage his finances is he competent to propose an annual state budget. Additionally, there is an inappropriate audition video for a reality program showing a bragging, arrogant, and lauding Feroce which would inevitably see airtime in a general election. This video alone would be greatly corrosive and might lose an election.
Then there is former State Representative from Warwick Joe Trillo. Trillo is volcanic, petulant, and is the biggest thorn in Allan Fung’s side. Trillo cannot go a couple of days in a row without negatively critiquing the Cranston Mayor.
Most recently, Trillo dismissed Fung’s claim of success in the commercial development of Chapel View and Gateway City Center. Comparing Fung to Mickey Mouse, Trillo sought to relegate Fung to an innocuous observer rather than an essential facilitator of the project.
All of these aspirants are competing for a chair that has limited constitutional power. The only way to use the office effectively is to directly catalyze the electorate in order to put pressure on Smith Hill to effectuate real reform. The type of governor who could accomplish this circumvention of the status quo must have a character element that is not evident in any of the declared candidates. Simply, he or she must possess charisma and determination toward real change.
Otherwise, we are destined to continue to perpetuate the same inefficient, bloated, substandard, and pathetic government they we have always endured.