Almonte jump-starts early chatter about 2014 governor’s race
Governor Lincoln Chafee won’t be half-way through his four-year term until next January. But the news today that longtime former state auditor general Ernest Almonte is mulling a possible gubernatorial run for 2014 offers an early start to the political hot stove league.
Chafee has pointed to his ongoing fundraising in suggesting he’s likely to seek re-election.
As for other candidates, speculation will focus on the twin rising Democratic stars of Rhode Island politics — Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and state Treasurer Gina Raimondo. Each boasts enviable approval numbers and an effective fundraising operation. Meanwhile, Republican John Robitaille almost beat Chafee in 2010; he says he expects to make a decision on his plans after the November elections. Of course, other names could also surface.
If he runs, Almonte would be something of an outside-the-box candidate and a less well-known guy who hasn’t held elective office. He tells me has the management skills to be effective, and is compelled by a sense of duty to consider running for governor:
I don’t want to be sitting around when I’m 70 years old, saying, I should have stepped in and I didn’t, and I watched the state flounder.
I know I have the skill set and I have the people around the country that can help me, my friends, that are very successful at what they do, that I could bring in to help solve the problems.
After 15 years as state auditor general, Almonte now runs his own accounting and consulting company, with offices in Providence and Boston. Whether he runs for governor, he says, will depend on whether it makes sense for him to leave the business world.
Almonte has an affable, unassuming manner that contrasts with some of his credentials — like chairing an audit advisory committee for the Department of Defense. (Almonte also uses his LinkedIn account to describe his current title as “Chief Visionary Officer and CEO.”) The father of five sons says he’s concerned about the future of Rhode Island:
I look around at other families and say we need to make this state — it’s such a beautiful state, there’s so many things we can do here — we have to make it a state where people can get jobs and they can have a pathway to success. And I know we can do it.
So that’s why I want to get involved. I don’t think we have time to wait any more.
Almonte says he spoke out years ago about pension problems, warning that inaction would require draconian solutions. “We’re at that point now,” he says. “We have this whole next generation, and we have to help them to have a pathway to success . . . so I don’t want to just sit on the sidelines and wait for it to happen.”