The newish Obama for Rhode Island plans to hold a June 13 fundraiser, starting at 5:30 pm, at the Peerless Lofts in downtown Providence. The headliner will be Brown's men's basketball coach Craig Robinson, who is the brother of Barack Obama's wife Michelle. The former two-time All-Ivy player at Princeton resides in Providence and was selected as the Ivy League Men's Baskeball Coach of the Year.
Rhode Island has some other close ties to the Democratic presidential candidate. Two of the leaders of Obama for Rhode Island, Joseph Fernandez and Emily Maranjian (who are married to each another) are Brown grads who went to law school at Harvard with Obama.
Fernandez, whose day job is serving as Providence's city solicitor (Maranjian works as a white-collar prosecutor in Attorney General Patrick Lynch's office), says the presidential candidate is "very much in keeping with what we know" -- a person with a sharp intellect who is unpretentious and unassuming. The other chairs of Obama for Rhode Island are Jeff Padwa, president of the Rhode Island Trial Lawyers Association, and Rhoades Alderson, communications director for Providence Mayor David Cicilline.
The suggested donation levels for the June fundraiser are $230 and $460, and $1150 for a pre-reception on the roof deck of the Westminster Street building (the odd figures are said to be part of the Obama campaign's desire to do everything differently, as well as multiples of the maximum allowable $2300 individual donation). Besides those mentioned, Johnnie Chace is also a chair for the event.
Fernandez was unaware of when Obama may return to Rhode Island, although he expects that "we'll see a lot more of his spouse." Asked about recent polling gains by Hillary Clinton, Fernandez says he is mostly excited about the kickoff event for the local Obama group.