Governor Chafee has taken a lot of flack today for comments he made in an interview with Buddy Cianci blaming the media for his poor approval ratings.
"We don't have a Walter Cronkite out there," he said, "somebody that just calms everybody down and says, 'Look.'"
"Instead, for some reason, the media just gets themselves whipped up," he continued, "who's the piñata of the day, who's the punching bag of the day.
This is "Sunshine Week," an annual event meant to focus attention on the importance of transparency in government. In Rhode Island, the sun has not yet peeked out from behind the clouds.
The week's biggest story, to date, is Governor Chafee's refusal to make public a report on Medicaid waste and fraud. Chafee, who promised transparency during the gubernatorial campaign, argues that going public would jeopardize a state investigation born of the report.
Rhode Island's all-Democratic Congressinal delegation has attracted a bit of attention for a fundraiser it's hosting in Washington Monday for Governor Lincoln Chafee. National political prognosticator Larry Sabato mentions it today in a post on governors races across the country.
But sources tell me it's best not to read too much into the event.
WPRI superblogger Ted Nesi delivered new Public Policy Polling figures on the nascent Rhode Island gubernatorial race this morning. And the headlines were not entirely surprising: Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, is the early frontrunner and Governor Lincoln Chafee, an independent, faces a tough road to re-election.
Rhode Island's commentariat has given Governor Chafee relatively high marks for his budget proposal.
The praise has focused, most of all, on the budget's political virtues. After a doomed attempt to broaden the state's sales tax in the early portion of his term - raising the hackles of the business community and many legislators - this was a fiscal blueprint that received a relatively warm reception in the halls of power.
Governor Chafee, set to deliver his "State of the State" address at 7 pm tonight, will unveil a budget proposal designed to "make Rhode Island more competitive," invest in public education, assist struggling municipalities, and maintain and improve infrastructure.
Staff gave reporters a glimpse at the specifics in a briefing this afternoon, on condition that they not reveal the details until the speech begins.
My new cover story, sizing up the 2014 gubernatorial race, discusses the early jockeying for labor's support, among other topics. And my basic conclusion is this: public employee unions have no "fair-haired child" in the race, as one Chafee aide put it.
All the leading contenders have ticked off union leaders in one way or another in the last couple of years.
My new cover story, gaming out the 2014 governor's race, lands today. What struck me most, in reporting the piece, was the fluidity of the contest.
Many have already written off Governor Chafee, whose approval ratings are stuck in the 20s. But his team made a reasonably convincing case for the power of incumbency. If he can articulate a compelling economic development message and sign a gay marriage bill, his stock could rise.
The New Year will mark the de facto start of the 2014 governor's race. And while much of the nascent campaign will be about fundraising, the public policy fights waged by the would-be candidates will have no small bearing on their evolving images.
We're already getting glimpses of what the bold-faced names might pursue in the coming months.
Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter has ordered negotiations over a union lawsuit challenging the state's landmark pension reform bill.
I'd be surprised, though, if there's a pre-trial settlement.
Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who pushed the bill through the General Assembly and built a national reputation as a can-do pol in the process, has just released a statement saying she'll negotiate in "good faith."
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.
Governor Lincoln Chafee has a habit of going out on a limb. Last year, he pushed for a doomed expansion of the state sales tax. His refusal to turn over murder suspect Jason Pleau to federal authorities, fearing they might seek the death penalty, seemed like a legal longshot from the start. And his stubborn insistence on calling the State House spruce a "holiday tree" - two years running now - remains deeply unpopular.
Lincoln Chafee's appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" to discuss the "holiday tree" controversy was, as predicted, a mistake. O'Reilly's shtick is better suited to the Foxitude, of course. And Chafee's chief argument - equating the recitation of the Lord's Prayer in public school to the installation of a Christmas Tree at the State House - fell flat.
Governor Lincoln Chafee has never been known for his political acumen. But today's handling of the "holiday tree" lighting was clever.
Chafee, of course, attracted national attention last year - much of it unflattering - when the local media latched onto the administration's decision to call the State House Christmas tree a "holiday tree."
Official Rhode Island's approach to the homelessness crisis has been unimaginative at best, heartless at worst.
Two years ago, I wrote a piece for the Phoenix titled "How Rhode Island Can Eliminate Homelessness." And while the headline might sound fanciful, it really isn't. Most homeless are on the street temporarily - displaced by a fire or an abusive relationship.