The hippest guy in state government


Writing in this week's Phoenix, I take a look at state Representative David Segal of Providence, who combines earnestness and a bit of youthful cool in his ongoing work as a legislator-activist:

When state Representative David Segal staged a fundraiser in May at Nick-a-Nee’s, the watering hole in Providence’s Jewelry District, the idiosyncratic crowd indicated just how different this event was from your standard legislative money-maker.
Aside from the reasonably expected throng of 20-something activists, creative-types, and some older Fox Point constituents, the attendees encompassed the Democratic and Republican leadership of the House of Representatives. Even Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline, with whom Segal had sparred when he served on the Providence City Council and who had worked against Segal’s preferred council successor, made the scene. The What Cheer? Brigade, a roving brass band with a punk rock spirit, offered the soundtrack for the free-wheeling evening.
“He throws a hell of a party,” acknowledges House Minority Leader Robert Watson (R-East Greenwich), who says he attended the event to help maintain a working relationship with Segal. “He may be liberal,” Watson says, “but I also believe him to be open-minded. Republicans appreciate an open mind on the House floor. It’s ironically rare these days.”

Note is also taken of the path traveled by Segal since he first ran for local office in 2002:

Segal, a Maryland native who moved to Providence after graduating from Columbia University in 2001, faced sharp criticism and charges of being a carpetbagger when he won a city council seat a relatively short time later — becoming the first Green Party candidate to win an election in Rhode Island — at age 22.
Mixing idealism and unabashedly liberal politics with a seriousness of purpose, the rep has long since converted many, if not most, of his critics into believers. And while elected officials are generally wary of making detailed public statements, Segal frequently blogs on the progressive site , regularly publishes op-eds in the Providence Journal, and he is one of two managing editors of a new, mostly entertainment-related blog, One friend even likens the representative, given his ubiquity, to Adrian Grenier’s hip actor character on the HBO hit Entourage.
If politics is the art of the possible, as Otto Von Bismarck once remarked, Segal seems like a skilled practitioner.

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