The CD1 race just keeps getting more, uh, weird
It’s not every day when a Democratic congressional candidate invokes the New Deal, pledges to revolutionize how members of Congress do the people’s business (a.k.a. “The New Idea”), scorns a Republican rival, and then declines to take questions from reporters.
But perhaps we should expect the unexpected when it comes to Anthony Gemma. After months of hinting at a Democratic primary challenge to David Cicilline, Gemma made it official this evening, addressing about 100 or so supporters at Prospect Park in Providence.
Gemma delivered a six-page speech long on the type of rhetoric presented during his 2010 campaign, when he placed second to Cicilline in a four-way Democratic primary:
— He spoke of new ideas, “new ideas confidently brought forth . . . new ideas replacing old, failed, debilitating and destructive ideas . . . I alone among all the other candidates for Congress from the Rhode Island 1st offer the leadership, the vision, the plans, and the passion that, applied confidently, wisely andwith the courage of noble convictions, dramatically enhance the likelihood of success in all walks of life.”
— Gemma unloaded on Republican candidate Brendan Doherty, asserting the former state police superintendent “left public service as soon as he became eligible for his state pension. …. Brendan Doherty lives in a public sector bubble. He doesn’t have a clue about the problems faced by Rhode Islanders, let alone the solutions to those problems.”
(In a somewhat mild response, the Doherty campaign called the Republican “the only candidate with the proven track record of leadership and the character necessary” to bolster the economy in RI and the US.)
— Gemma didn’t name Cicilline by name, but made a thinly veiled attack, saying, “I wont have to apologize to you for putting my best interests ahead of your best interests … I won’t have to apologize to you for evading responsibility for my failures … I won’t have to aplogize for breaking the sacred trust between the people and their elected representatives.
Gemma also talked big about creating jobs and transforming how members of Congress do their jobs. The details, he said, will be forthcoming, along with future one-on-one interviews with reporters.
The assembled media gaggle wasn’t much satisfied with that since a post-announcement Q+A is a standard part of such news conferences.
Gemma started making the rounds of greeting his supporters, with myself, Ted Nesi, Dan McGowan and some other reporters in hot pursuit. A handler told us interviews will be arranged in the time to come. We explained how we wanted to talk with the candidate right then.
Gemma brushed off the requests to take questions, stepped into an SUV, and it sped off as his supporters lingered in the park, munching cup cakes and enjoying a pleasant spring evening.