In today's Phoenix - our year-in-review spectacular - I've got a cover story on the amateurism coursing through Rhode Island politics. We saw it in spades in 2012r: from the epic collapse of the taxpayer-supported 38 Studios video game company to the misguided Congressional campaigns of Democrat Anthony Gemma and Republican Michael Riley.
This morning, Providence Monthly convened a panel of political reporters and editors to dicuss the state of political reporting - and, really, all kinds of reporting - in Rhode Island.
It was a good group - Tim Murphy, assistant managing editor for public policy at the Providence Journal, reporters Tim White and Ted Nesi of WPRI-TV, Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis, reporter Erika Niedowski of the Associated Press, news editor and reporter Dan McGowan of golocalprov, and myself.
A couple of weeks ago Ian Prior, campaign manager for Republican Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty, told me Doherty's race against Congressman David Cicilline would be won or lost in October.
Fitting, then, that the Doherty campaign would release its first ad attacking Providence mayor-turned-Congressman Cicilline on his handling of the capital city's finances - and his now infamous declaration that the city was in "excellent" fiscal condition - on October 1.
Democratic Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma's accusations of voter fraud by incumbent Congressman David Cicilline have been met with a great deal of skepticism by the Rhode Island media and the state's political elite. He's done little to substantiate them, after all.
The appearance yesterday, on talk radio, of the woman he'd claimed was holed up in her attic with a weapon - so scared of the Cicilline machine - probably didn't help his case.
R. Jay Magill, author of Sincerity: How a moral ideal born five hundred years ago inspired religious wars, modern art, hipster chic, and the curious notion that we all have something to say (no matter how dull), argues that the American fixation on sincerity in politics is wrongheaded.
Politics, after all, is about dodge and artifice and posturing.
Last night, after WPRI-TV released the first portion of its poll on the Democratic primary pitting Congressman David Cicilline against businessman Anthony Gemma, I took a stab at what the poll - which gave Cicilline a comfortable 12-point lead on Gemma - might say about a Cicilline race against Republican Brendan Doherty in November.
A new WPRI poll gives Congressman David Cicilline a 43-31 lead on his Democratic primary challenger Anthony Gemma. The poll was taken mostly before Gemma's big news conference last week leveling voter fraud charges against the Cicilline camp, so it's possible things have shifted. But if the numbers hold and Cicilline cruises to victory, there are a couple of takeaways here to keep in mind for the general election
The Providence Journal has a front-page story today on legislation, passed last year, that makes it easier to cast an absentee ballot. A voter no longer has to attest to extenuating circumstances - no longer has to swear, for instance, that he'll be hospitalized on election day - to get a mail-in ballot. Rather, he can simply say he "may not be able to vote" at his regular polling place on election day.
It's been nine months since Ken McKay, the bomb-throwing happy warrior, stepped down as chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party to take a job with Senator Ron Johnson, the conservative Wisconsin Republican.
The party is missing him, it seems.
Democratic Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma's press conference yesterday was problematic, to say the least.
I've got a cover story in today's Phoenix on Republican Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty's little-noticed emulation of Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, whose truck-driving, blue-collar authenticity and squishy ideology offers the most compelling model for a GOP resurgence in the northeast.
Yesterday I appeared on Dan Yorke's radio show and suggested that, if Anthony Gemma failed to deliver the goods in his highly anticipated press conference, he could - remarkably - turn Congressman David Cicilline into a sympathetic figure.
Is that what we're seeing now?
I don't know that Gemma's press conference was the abject failure the blogosphere is describing; as I noted earlier today, there are plenty of voters out there inclined to believe the worst about Cicilline.
Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma's staff distributed packets to members of the media at today's news conference including a transcript of Gemma's speech, records which purport to show several voters registered at business addresses, copies of what the campaign says are sworn statements by Cicilline volunteers who say they witnessed fraud, and correspondence from Gemma to a handful of government agencies.
In the run-up to Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma’s highly anticipated press conference today, unveiling allegations of voter fraud by incumbent Congressman David Cicilline, the chattering class - this observer included - was pretty much unanimous: Gemma had to deliver the goods or he was finished.But as I write, something more complicated – and more interesting – is taking shape: a remarkable case study in Rhode Island’s strange relationship with the truth.
As Republican Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty launches a radio spot calling on Congress to rein in spending, his Democratic opponent - David Cicilline - releases a new TV ad called "America," suggesting we should stop spending money in Afghanistan and Iraq and start building roads and bridges here.
The ad also highlights Cicilline's support for legislation that would end tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas.
Businessman and Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma's histrionics are greeted with some serious eye-rolling in political and media circles these days. And his latest statement, suggesting he'll reveal evidence of "criminal" activity by Congressman David Cicilline or his campaign in a Wednesday press conference, is no exception.