With the ability to self-fund, Riley announces challenge to Langevin
As he mounts a challenge to six-term incumbent Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin, Republican investment manager Michael Riley says he has something that previous Langevin challengers lacked: the ability to put a lot of his own money in the race.
During his formal campaign announcement at the Statehouse this morning, Riley put a $1.4 million cost on the price of a competitive campaign against Lanvevin. Asked whether he could self-fund to that amount, Riley said, “I’m hoping people are going to get excited,” and contribute to his run. But making a big investment in his own race, Riley added, is “within the realm of possibility.”
A string of pro-choice Democrats — Kate Coyne-McCoy (2000), Jennifer Lawless (2006), and most recently, Elizabeth Dennigan (2010) — have run against Langevin from the left. Current RI GOP executive director Mark Zaccaria attacked twice from the right (2008 and 2010). None of the candidates had much success, and each was handicapped by a lack of campaign cash.
During his announcement in the Statehouse rotunda, Riley, 55, sounded some of the messaging typical of challengers (his news release also references having opened an office in “Warrick”). One focal point was his view that US has to live within its means:
This campaign provides real evidence that we can change the culture of Washington. This can be done by bringing private sector experience to the fight for our future . . . . Meeting a payroll and controlling costs, versus printing money and throwing it away on guaranteed to fail efforts to revive our economy . . . . Getting government out of the way of the people who actually know how to create jobs.
Also challenging Langevin this year are Democrat John Matson and Republican Michael Gardiner. Each has run low-funded campaigns in the past.
Some highlights from Riley’s Q+A with reporters:
— Riley says he’s a Navy brat who has lived in a series of states; he moved his family from New Jersey to Narragansett in 2003, craving solitude, after he was at the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. He declined to talk about that experience.
— The GOP candidate says he’s been an investment adviser for 30 years, having started as a runner at the Chicago exchange in 1973. Riley says he’s been the managing director of a bank and run his own trading and arbitrage firms. He’s currently one of two principals of a local company, Coastal Management Group LLC, and says he runs a hedge fund and a private equity fund.
— “Certainty” is what he most like about arbitrage, Riley says; the uncertainty of politics makes him uncomfortable.
— If elected, Riley says, he’ll be “totally focused on the economy.” He says, “I’m more qualified than anybody to deal the with issues of finance and the economy, which is the most pressing issue of the day. I’m more qualified than any of the candidates you have in this state.”
— Riley says the Republicans with whom he most identifies are Paul Ryan and Ron Paul, and he says he’s warming up to Mitt Romney. He says he opposes abortion rights, but expects Roe v. Wade to remain the law. Riley says he supports efforts to cut federal spending and backs a simpler, flatter federal tax.
— This is Riley’s second run for office. He says he didn’t make it out of the primary in 2010 for the state Senate held by Jim Sheehan.
— Asked about the pension overhaul signed into law last year by Governor Chafee, Riley said, “It’s okay.” He believes Gina Raimondo– he missed by a bit in pronouncing her name — “actually got something done that no one else could have gotten done . . . . Do I think it fixed things for good? No, not in the least bit.”
— Riley says he would limit himself to three terms in Congress.
— Riley says his wife believes in single-syllable non-gender specific names, so their three children are named Brett, Quinn, and Ford.