Field of capable candidates
Our state is fortunate to have a plethora of very good, highly qualified candidates running for statewide office. In almost every case, voters will face a win-win situation when considering candidates for state cabinet-level positions. Individual voting decisions will require the same thoughtful analysis of candidates’ attributes, beliefs and experience that this paper went through when deciding who to endorse. Additionally, our endorsement analysis sought to identify a slate of candidates that might enjoy a synergistic relationship as they collectively strive to improve our state.
Voting decisions will be easier for this election than in previous years because of increased citizen involvement in the electoral process. Exciting, new candidates energized the primary process both at the state and local levels. Public interest and turnout at the polls were heartening and portend tremendous involvement at the ballot booth in November.
Our choice for governor appears in the first section of today’s paper
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR –
DANIEL McKEE (DEMOCRAT)
The lieutenant governor’s race also features two top-shelf candidates in Democrat Daniel McKee, mayor of Cumberland, and former state director of elderly affairs, Republican Catherine Taylor.
Taylor seems to stand philosophically closer to Democrats, this evidenced by her opposition to expanding charter schools and her belief that a right-to-work law in Rhode Island would be bad for our economy, both of which gained her wide union support. McKee believes in charter schools and has been a leader in reforming education by making additional opportunities available to disadvantaged students. His executive experience as mayor is also to his advantage should he have to temporarily step up to the governor’s seat. It was a tough decision, but this paper endorses Democrat Dan McKee for lieutenant governor.
GENERAL TREASURER –
ERNEST ALMONTE (INDEPENDENT)
Whoever is elected general treasurer will have big shoes to fill following Gina Raimondo.
The wide gap in the two candidates’ experience levels makes this endorsement somewhat easier than others. Independent candidate Ernest Almonte, a CPA who served as state auditor general for six years and who has served on countless city, state and national finance and auditing committees and boards, seems to stand head and shoulders above his Democrat opponent, Seth Magaziner. Thirty-one-year-old Magaziner has some valuable financial investment experience and seems full of eager enthusiasm. However, at a time when our state’s hard-earned taxpayer dollars need an especially qualified monitor, Almonte’s experience wins out.
We endorse Independent Ernest Almonte for general treasurer.
SECRETARY OF STATE –
NELLIE GORBEA (DEMOCRAT)
The race for secretary of state between Democrat Nellie Gorbea and Republican John Carlevale tilts favorably toward Gorbea because of her experience in the office when she served as deputy secretary of state for four years. She has some exciting ideas about how to enhance the electoral process, how to better monitor lobbying, how to make it easier for new business start-ups, and how to streamline the secretary of state’s functions.
She needs to shy away from her quest to rescind our state’s voter ID law. With the huge number of recently revealed voters who remain on our voter rolls after they have died or moved to another state, our system is ripe for voter fraud.
Carlevale, a retired college professor who ran unsuccessfully for senator, lieutenant governor and secretary of state in the 1990s and who produces the public access TV program “State of the State,” is adamantly in favor of keeping the voter ID law. He also strongly favors a state constitutional convention.
Our legislature seems unlikely to revisit the voter ID law anytime soon. Considering Gorbea’s experience and her good ideas that aren’t related to rescinding the voter ID law, she brings to the position enough to overshadow Mr. Carlevale. Therefore, we endorse Democrat Nellie Gorbea for secretary of state.
ATTORNEY GENERAL –
DAWSON HODGSON (REUBLICAN)
Perhaps the most difficult endorsement decision was for attorney general. Again, two highly qualified candidates are competing: the incumbent, Democrat Peter Kilmartin, and Republican Dawson Hodgson, a state senator from North Kingstown. Kilmartin has engineered some notable accomplishments while in office, to include establishing a child abuse unit, proposing stricter penalties of gun law violations and helping close the nationwide mortgage abuse settlement that brought $150 million to Rhode Island.
Some open government organizations have faulted Kilmartin for failure to aggressively enforce access to public records statutes, and he could be more diligent in monitoring the issuance of state contracts to outside lawyers, especially if they are issued to sitting state legislators. Overall, however, Kilmartin has done a decent job as attorney general.
Dawson Hodgson, Kilmartin’s opponent, is a lawyer who has practiced in Rhode Island for about 10 years to include five years as a prosecutor in the attorney general’s office. He has served in the senate since 2010 and is the deputy minority leader. He has brought forth some refreshing ideas on attacking fraud and abuse in our benefits system, on closing DUI loopholes, and has drafted a bill to establish an independent investigation of the 38 Studios fiasco. Hodgson was also an early and strong advocate for marriage equality.
While Kilmartin has done a reasonably good job, it seems more could have been done. A new face with new ideas running the attorney general’s office may be exactly what we need. Consequently, we endorse Republican Dawson Hodgson for attorney general.