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Ray Sullivan hired as MERI’s campaign director

February 28, 2011

Former state representative Ray Sullivan is joining Marriage Equality Rhode Island as its full-time campaign director, as supporters continue their push to pass same-sex marriage legislation in the General Assembly.

“We are excited to have Ray join the MERI team, his wealth of campaign and governmental experience will truly be an asset as we work to achieve marriage equality for all Rhode Islanders this year,” said Martha Holt, MERI board member. “I want to thank Congressman Langevin for allowing Ray to temporarily transition over to the MERI Team to help us get over the finish line.”

Veteran Democratic lobbyist Rick McAuliffe recently acknowledged divisions within MERI. Speaking today, MERI spokesman Bill Fischer defended the efforts of MERI and its coalition partners. He says Sullivan’s hire as a consultant doesn’t reflect concerns about MERI’s lobbying effort.

As campaign director, Sullivan will oversee all facets of MERI’s campaign activities including grassroots organizing, media relations, fundraising and legislative strategy development. Sullivan will work with coalition partner lobbyists on legislative strategy, but will not serve as a lobbyist interacting directly with the General Assembly.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead the campaign operations of MERI at such a historic juncture and time for the organization. Like the majority of Rhode Islanders, I believe in the fundamental rights of equality for all citizens and I look forward to working with board members and staff to achieve their goals,” said Sullivan.

“I look forward to working with Ray to further develop and implement our winning strategic plan during the course of this legislative session and to bolster our operational capabilities moving forward,” said Kathy Kushnir, MERI’s executive director.

Sullivan, a seasoned political veteran, currently serves as deputy district director for Congressman Jim Langevin.  He has worked on and managed campaigns in Rhode Island at the local, state and federal level for the past 10 years. Sullivan will take a leave of absence from Langevin’s office and transition over to his new role this week.

A former State Representative (Dist 29 – Coventry, West Greenwich), Sullivan served in the House of Representatives from 2004 to 2010. During his tenure in the House, Sullivan co-sponsored marriage equality legislative and was an avid supporter and advocate for its’ passage. Most recently, he ran Langevin’s successful 2010 campaign for reelection. He also managed Barack Obama’s presidential election operations in Rhode Island in 2008.

“We will continue to marshal resources to augment MERI’s operational capacity throughout the course of the legislative session to ensure victory,” said Ken Fish, MERI board member. “The addition of a campaign director is only the latest step in our strategic plan. I anticipate the team will continue to grow during the next several weeks.”

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