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Hassett eyeing secretary of state run for 2014

June 7, 2011

One of the feel-good local political stories over the past year has been the recovery of Terrence “Terry” Hassett, Providence’s Ward 12 councilman, after being struck by a car and seriously injured last October while crossing Atwells Avenue. Now, in the political equivalent of a coming-out party that could set the stage for a statewide run in 2014, Hassett will be the subject of a high-profile fundraiser tomorrow evening (6-8) at Roger Williams Park Casino.

An e-mail invitation sent last week by the political committee of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras talked up Hassett as “a tremendous ally” and someone whose “experience, diligence and commitment to Providence have made him a tremendous asset as we continue to tackle the problems facing our city.”

The invite says Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse “will be hosting” the fundraiser — no small triumph for a local official, even if Senate business is likely to keep the duo in DC at the time. The fundraiser is Hassett’s first since his accident.

Hassett, 50, a senior fraud and compliance investigator for the state Department of Labor and Training, says he’s focused on Providence’s fiscal crisis. But he acknowledges some interest in running statewide in 2014, Rhode Island’s next statewide election cycle.

In the future, I haven’t been shy about my interest in public service and actually coming into a position and making a difference in that position. And I think a statewide office like secretary of state would be a fitting office for me, but that would be a decision that would be made further down the road.

Secretary of state makes practical sense for Hassett: it’s one of the two state general offices (the other is lieutenant governor) where term limits prevent the twice-elected incumbent (Ralph Mollis) from seeking reelection.

As someone with long roots in Providence politics — Hassett says he started working on campaigns when he was about 15 — he can also draw on his experience and connections.  (The willingness of Senators Reed and Whitehouse to lend their names to Hassett’s fundraiser suggest how he’s well-liked in Democratic circles.) The councilman can also tout previous work experience in the attorney general’s office, starting with Arlene Violet and continuing into Whitehouse’s tenure there.

As far as his accident, Hassett says he remains grateful about what he calls a complete recovery made possible by many people.

Many people do not recover, many people do not survive, and I think about that. Here I was able to step back into the wonderful life that I have, with all the help that I had to get there. That’s a difficult thing to think about sometimes. But I’ve recovered, and I have the zeal back, which I think is important to have in life. 

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