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On the Governor's Race

For the sick, small tribe obsessed with Rhode Island politics, it's hard not to be preoccupied with the 2014 governor's race. The story lines are just too irresistible: Governor Chafee's uphill fight for re-election; the increasingly personal schism between the independent governor and a likely opponent, Democratic Treasurer Gina Raimondo; a possible clash of the titans in the Democratic primary, between Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras; the intriguing potential of Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican whose friendship with Taveras goes back years.

And so, I offer up a few tidbits from the campaign trail, such as it is. Some of this, I confess, qualifies as gossip and rank speculation. But I don't think that'll stop you from reading:

  • The Democratic firmament, it appears, is feeling pretty squeamish at the moment: many politicians and operatives and donors loathe to commit to Raimondo or Taveras this early. Winning these figures over will be the primary before the primary.
  • The chattering classes have Raimondo announcing for governor early next year, which could put pressure on Taveras to make his intentions clear.
  • Raimondo pushed landmark pension reform through the General Assembly last year, much to the chagrin of public sector unions. And there's been plenty of talk about the labor problem that would present for her in a Democratic gubernatorial primary. But it's worth looking at the other side of the coin, too. Labor would be a considerable asset for Taveras, who is touting his record of negotiating pension changes in his city rather than legislating them. But he could also expect significant support from Providence residents and from Latinos, both important constituencies in a Democratic primary.
  • If the mayor could count on broad support in Providence writ large, the Taveras-Raimondo fight for the upscale, vote-rich East Side would seem pivotal. Neutralize Taveras's Providence advantage there and Raimondo is in business.
  • Taveras's presumed advantages in a Democratic primary have sparked speculation about Raimondo running as an independent. But it's important to consider how leaving the Democratic Party could affect her political fortunes down the road. Many, after all, have her ticketed for the US Senate some day.  
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