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Will Avedisian go for it in 2012?

November 10, 2010

Scott Avedisian has been the anti-Matt Brown for a while now, the popular incumbent perfectly content to remain in a relatively low-profile post while repeatedly passing on runs for higher office.

Be that as it may, Avedisian is getting buzz as a possible Republican challenger to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in 2012. Matt Jerzyk got the ball rolling last week with his Friday column at GoLocalProv:

Not only did [Avedisian] cruise to re-election on Tuesday night, winning 80% of the vote in Warwick, but his ears undoubtedly perked up when hearing about Chafee’s victory.  Reason being, a Warwick Mayor looks at a 2012 US Senate race much more earnestly when his friend occupies the State House.

The talk continued with state  Republican chairman Giovanni Cicione calling himself a possible fallback against Whitehouse, if Governor Carcieri or Avedisian don’t go for it.

Here’s what Avedisian told me a short time ago when asked about a possible Senate run:

It’s obviously something that I wouldn’t discount, but it’s not something I’ve given any time or energy to. I think it’s way too early for people to already be looking at the 2012 election.

 What would have to change for him to run for higher office?

Well, I think I’d have to go through a process of thinking about where things are and where I want to go. I mean, each election season has presented me with that opportunity [to run for higher office] and thus far none of the options that were out there were something that I wanted to do.

I haven’t given any thought yet to 2012; we just barely finished 2010, so I can’t tell you there are five things that would have to fall into place for me to make that other kind of a decision. I think we need to give a little bit of time to know where everything falls out, where people are going to decide [what] they want to pursue, how new administrations are going to tackle issues, and look at things in totality, instead of already talking about an election that is almost two years away.

No thought to 2012? Not giving even a whit of thought to possible future moves would make Avedisian a rare political figure, indeed.

So what will Carcieri and Avedisian do?

The governor, based on his appearances on Neil Cavuto and the like, appears to enjoy the public attention of office. If there was a time to run for the Senate, 2012 would likely be it, since Carcieri will turn 70 in December of that year. The governor can draw on his personal wealth and a network of contacts that has grown during his time in office. But does he want to deal with all that after eight years as governor?

Avedisian has a strong base in a vote-rich city, and he’s the kind of Republican who tends to run well in Rhode Island. In the past, personal ties with other officeholders have, in part, precluded his upward path. As I wrote in the Phoenix in 2007:

The downside of this bonhomie, as Avedisian freely concedes, is how he is very chummy with many of his would-be Democratic rivals. Last year, for example, he decided not to run for lieutenant governor, even though he could have formed a potent ticket with Carcieri. Avedisian denies that his friendship with Elizabeth Roberts, the Democrat who won the lieutenant governor’s seat, was the deciding factor, but he says, “Elizabeth and I would never run against one another.”

By 2014, Roberts will be termed out of the LG’s office and she already looms as a potential Democratic challenger to Chafee. Avedisian, clearly, would never run against Chafee. So a Senate campaign could be the more appealing path.

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