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Rhode Island Tip Sheet: Cross-currents in the partisan breeze

September 19, 2011

STATE OF THE STATE: Representative Dan Gordon, Republican of Portsmouth, is the latest in a long and florid history of local political figures who get attention for something other than bright ideas . . . . Turns out Gordon has quite the rap sheet . . . . Speaking before those revelations, House Minority Leader Brian Newberry said he didn’t know about Gordon’s most recent legal woes when the freshman rep was ejected from the House GOP caucus earlier this month . . . Speaker Gordon Fox says it’s time for Rep. Gordon to go.

LEIDECKER CONVICTED: Rejecting arguments that e-mails sent in a fictitious persona to former Rep. Douglas Gablinske were a constitutionally form of protected speech, District Court Judge Stephen Isherwood today convicted the NEARI’s John Leidecker of a single count of cyber-stalking. Leidecker was sentenced to a $100 fine. His lawyer, Robert Mann, plans to appeal the verdict.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: State GOP chairman Ken McKay was fairly buzzing with the “union thuggery” meme during his last visit to RINPR, and Leidecker’s conviction is already sparking more of that messaging. Outside court, Gablinske pointed to what he called “a culture of thuggery at the highest level of the NEA, that is not only condoned by the leadership, but also encouraged.” . . . . Leidecker responded, “That’s nonsense,” and declined further comment.

COMING ATTRACTIONS II: Speaking of unions, responding to labor pressure while pursuing pension reform presents a political challenge for the ruling Democrats in the General Assembly. But if  they pass a reasonably effective pension reform, after having put the kibosh on the Chafee tax hikes, the party could lay claim to a bulk of untraditional support beyond typical Democratic constituencies.

COMING ATTRACTIONS III: Over time, the messaging on Treasurer Gina Raimondo‘s pension proposal has changed from “a framework of solutions” to “comprehensive legislation.” Boiling the proposal down could be a political win-win: 1) it makes it simpler for legislative leaders to herd votes; 2) it exposes Raimondo (and Governor Lincoln Chafee) to more labor antipathy, but lets them lay claim as authors of the pension solution.

MEDIA STORM: RI activist Bruce Reilly is getting a lot of attention as a law student at Tulane University.

FAKE MEDIA: @FakeAPStylebook has given birth to @FakePewResearch (Romnesko).

OBAMA: The president says raising taxes on the wealthy isn’t class warfare . . . A competing view here.

WHITE HOUSE 2012: The New York Times looks at Paint Creek, the town Rick Perry left behind.

BIRTHDAY: Dan Kamil; Jenna Lafayette; Joe McDonald; Karen McAninich; Lisa Pelosi; Laurel Casey; Michael Napolitano; Steve Doerr.

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