New Leaders Project Endorses

An advocacy group calling itself the New Leaders Project and declaring a "pro-growth," "pro-jobs," fix-the-legislature agenda, has issued a first round of endorsements for General Assembly candidates. The "multi-partisan" group says it will endorse Democrats, Republicans, Moderates, and Independents who share its vision.

A quick dip into campaign finance records finds the president of the group, Jack Sommers, has donated to Republican candidates in the past, including former Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey, current Cranston mayor Allan Fung, and Governor Donald Carcieri. He's also given to the Rhode Island Mortgage Bankers Association PAC.

Another member of the Board of Directors, Henry Kates, has given to Democrats Patrick Lynch and David Cicilline, Republican Carcieri, and recently, independent gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee.

Here's the group's release, including the endorsements:

Providence – A new, multi-partisan organization of civic-minded Rhode Islanders has announced the launch of the New Leaders Project, an effort to raise the standards for leadership and vision in the General Assembly. The New Leaders Project represents a fundamentally different approach to reform in Rhode Island. The group endorses candidates for the General Assembly based on their leadership attributes, such as principled judgment and a vision for economic growth, regardless of political party.

“The New Leaders Project was born of the sense that our state is headed in the wrong direction – and that just complaining about it won’t change anything,” said Jack Sommers, President of the New Leaders Project. “Our mission is to find pro-growth, pro-jobs candidates of all parties – Democrats, Republicans, Moderates and Independents – and help get them the resources it takes to win in November.”

As part of the launch, Sommer announced the endorsement of four candidates that have earned the support of New Leaders Project based on their commitment to the group’s pro-jobs platform and the strength of their campaigns. The group’s website,, will serve as a portal to encourage support of these candidates. They include:

Chris Ottiano, who is running for the state senate seat representing Portsmouth and Bristol in District 11. Chris is a physician, serves on the Portsmouth planning commission and has a long record of distinguished community activity.

Dawson Hodgson, who is running for the state senate seat that covers parts of Warwick, North Kingstown and East Greenwich in District 35. Dawson was a five-year criminal prosecutor for the State of Rhode Island, and is currently general manager of a North Kingstown business owned by his family.

Doug Gablinske, who is running for re-election to the House seat representing Bristol and Warren in District 68. Doug is a leader in education reform, and was instrumental in the passage of a long-delayed and much needed statewide school funding formula.

Mike Marcello, who is running for re-election to the House seat representing Scituate and western Cranston. Mike has been a consistent supporter of a pro-jobs, pro-growth agenda at the State House, and has earned the respect of his colleagues.

“These citizens have decided to make the personal and professional sacrifices it takes to serve. They are committed to doing the hard work it will take to get Rhode Island back on track,” added Sommer.

New Leaders Project also announced its board of directors.  In addition to Sommers it includes Henry Kates, Gayle Corrigan, Steve Monicelli, Steve McGarry and Mike McMahon.

About New Leaders Project

New Leaders Project is a non-profit 501(c)6 membership organization committed to making Rhode Island’s economy more competitive.  New Leaders Project believes that Rhode Island's economic competitiveness is absolutely linked to the economic health of State and local government.  For more information, go to or follow us on Twitter at


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