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de Ramel mulling secretary of state run in 2014; contrasts with 4 other possible Dems

July 26, 2012

Add wealthy Newporter Guillaume de Ramel to the crowded field of Democrats heading toward a run for secretary of state in 2014.

de Ramel says he’ll focus his thinking more sharply after the presidential election in November. “I’m definitely seriously considering it,” he says of a run for secretary of state. de Ramel ran for that post in a Democratic primary in 2006, losing to the present incumbent, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis.

Asked what he learned from that campaign, de Ramel says, “Boy, I could be here all day with you.” A short time later, he sounded as if his mind is made up about pursuing the office, saying, “This second time around, it will be a completely different [campaign].”

The Democrats already mentioned as potential candidates for secretary of state in 2014 include Providence councilman Terry Hassett, state Senators Juan Pichardo and Jamie Doyle, and state Representative Deborah Ruggiero.

de Ramel would contrast with that field as someone outside elected politics and as a guy with a lot of personal wealth. I described his background as part of his 2006 campaign:

De Ramel seems to have sprung from a world where Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous intersects with New England liberalism.

Asked about his extended family tree, he describes how it encompasses a member of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, and relations of French political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu and William Bradford, one of Massachusetts’ Colonial governors. His parents, Lisette Prince and Regis de Ramel, met in Monaco, and the family lived there until splitting when Guillaume was about six. De Ramel spent the rest of his youth in Newport.

The candidate traces his progressive values to his family, including one ancestor, Frederick O. Prince, who served as Boston’s mayor for a few years in the late 19th Century, strongly supporting the creation of the Boston Public Library. (Another ancestor, Norman Prince, died in a 1916 flying accident after serving with the Escadrille Lafayette, a group of American pilots who volunteered to aid France before the US became involved in World War I.) Frederick O. Prince’s son, Boston entrepreneur Frederick Henry Prince, made the family fortune in railroads and other enterprises, going on to establish with his wife, Newport native Abigail Norman (whose father donated the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown), the Prince Charitable Trusts. The trusts distributed almost $8 million in grants in 2004, a chunk of it to support social services, arts and culture, environmental protection, and cultural preservation on Aquidneck Island.

More recently, de Ramel has served on the board of the Coastal Resources Management Council, and he’s also been active with Rhode Island Hospital. He says he sees a run for secretary of state as another form of public service.

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