Raimondo: Speak loudly and carry a big stick
Skillful use of the bully pulpit has been a big part of state Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s success in driving forward pension overhaul legislation, as I noted last Friday. But it takes more than a megaphone to succeed in politics. That’s why Raimondo’s broader political savvy also figures prominently in the pension bill vote slated for Thursday.
Thanks in part to her former job as a venture capitalist, Raimondo is capable of raising big bucks without breaking a sweat. Not coincidentally, Engage RI — the pro-overhaul group backing her approach — has also raised more than $500,000.
Asked last week on Newsmakers whether it would be in the public interest for Engage RI to disclose its contributors, Raimondo noted it’s not legally obligated to do so. She downplayed the possibility of conflicts emerging from Engage RI’s fundraising, asserting that all Rhode Islanders will benefit from pension reform.
That explanation will strike some as more than a little self-serving, yet it also reinforces Raimondo’s grasp of realpolitik. After all, as Ted Nesi reported last week, Engage RI plans to spend some of its dough next year to help lawmakers who vote for the pension overhaul.
Raimondo also pledges to help support pro-overhaul lawmakers. She asserts the court of public opinion will back them as well.
So if labor plans to make a Gablinske-like example of lawmakers who back pension reform, Raimondo and Engage RI hope to provide at least an effective counterweight. (The state GOP, which has failed to capitalize on a fertile political environment for years, could take a lesson here.)
That’s why Raimondo’s approach — in a spin on Teddy Roosevelt’s old aphorism — is best summed up as: Speak loudly and carry a big stick.