Trillo: 'I won’t be politically correct'
Trump supporter gears up for governor’s race
Standing behind a giant "Joe Trillo for Governor" sign, the former Republican State Representative and honorary chair of the Rhode Island for Trump campaign got the loudest cheer Tuesday night when he promised he won’t be politically correct.
Trillo also promised to tell the truth, not to be a lackey to special interest groups, to listen and to be open to changing his mind. Trillo’s remarks came at an event at the Crowne Plaza, billed as an exploratory meeting to assess a run for governor in 2018. Should he decide to run, he could find himself in a Republican primary with Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Kenneth Block, although there have been no official announcements yet. About 100 people were in attendance, many of them loyal Trump supporters like Marta Stamp.
Stamp said she liked Trump from the start and approached Trillo with the idea of mounting a Rhode Island for Trump movement. After Trillo’s comments, Stamp was elated.
“He sounds so much like Trump,” she said.
As for Trillo, he was sounding more like a candidate than someone weighing the options.
While the signs left no doubt he aspires to be governor, Trillo said in an interview at the end of his speech that this is still an exploratory phase.
“It would be the stupidest thing to announce early,” he said.
Asked when he might make his bid official, Trillo said he wouldn’t need to do that until the declaration deadline next June. Nonetheless, he added, “I’m moving forward at one hundred ten miles an hour…I want people to know I’m in the race.”
Trillo said he is qualified for the job because he knows many of Trump’s people and, unlike the state Democratic Congressional delegation, would work with the president to the benefit of the state; that for 50 years he has run businesses and knows how to manage; and that his 16 years as a state representative have shown him the “good, bad and very ugly of government.” He said he has “never been afraid to criticize government at every level.”
Topping his list of actions should he be elected is cutting taxes, which he said are driving people out of state, and business regulations that make it challenging for companies to open and operate in Rhode Island.
While the state’s jobless rate has dropped, Trillo said it doesn’t reflect the loss of population because of the state’s high taxes and lower-paying jobs.
“We have all those people who lost jobs during the recession who now are taking jobs and making far less than they ever were just to keep working. So they’re off the rate,” Trillo said. “And in Rhode Island, our governor will tell you, we have the best rate right now in New England. The bottom line is, it’s not a true rate if you look at the underemployment. It’s still pretty high.”
He said business people who have been successful and those with substantial portfolios are moving to states with lower taxes. Those jobs that Gov. Gina Raimondo has brought in, he said, have been bought through incentives and have “no roots.”
“We’re losing people and importing poverty,” he said, “this is a recipe for disaster.”
Trillo, who was outspoken as a legislator and an advocate of the business community in amending the costly excessive regulations of the state fire code in the wake of The Station Nightclub fire in 2003, said as governor he would “veto a lot of the nonsense from the Democrats.” He was critical of the development of Quonset, saying that the shoreline could have brought in many more jobs.
Trillo questioned why the state has a nuclear reactor at URI. “Do we need it? Why?”
Trillo said he would look to eliminate redundancy in government, starting with the Coastal Resources Management Council that he would close and incorporate with the Department of Environmental Management. He said this could be accomplished without the loss of jobs through attrition.
Trillo was critical of Raimondo’s tuition-free program, saying it would turn the Community College of Rhode Island into “the 13th and 14th grades of high school.” He took issue with the premise that everyone needs a college degree or associate’s degree to get a good job, saying there are many high-paying skilled jobs.
“She walks around acting as though, if you’re going to take a D-student and give that D-student free college, then all of the sudden that student is going to come out of college and get a good job? Guess what, Governor? Think again. That’s not going to happen,” he said.
Trillo, who said he has retired from his businesses, was introduced by his wife Marilyn. She outlined his political career and highlighted his political abilities by making an analogy of his abilities to steer and maneuver their boat to being the captain of the ship of state. In an interview prior to the program she said, “When I married Joe I always knew it was going to be an exciting ride.” She explained there are “no barriers” for him and that he is focused and has a passion to succeed.
The audience included a smattering of Warwick Republicans. Mayor Scott Avedisian was not in attendance, nor were any of Trillo’s former Republican colleagues from the House who were in session at the time.
Trillo focused his opening remarks on President Trump. He spoke of the four special elections the Democrats have spent so much money on in hopes of winning but lost. He mentioned what he sees as Trump’s accomplishments as president as well as the efforts to discredit him.
“One of the things that Donald Trump won on was his message to the average working family. The people who have worked all their lives to better their lives and they just feel as though every day their pockets are being picked by the taxes that keep coming out,” he said. “They feel as though there’s nobody representing them. And it’s so true. Today the Democratic Party is more concerned with representing the illegal immigrants that are coming into this country than the hard-working people who have been in this country. And they put them in a priority. I will never do that.”
Trillo said he is looking to build a team and urged those interested in his campaign and in “making Rhode Island great again” to sign on.
Trillo was organized. Names and contact information of those attending were captured and he had a crew video taping his remarks. He left little doubt – he’s running.