What is Robitaille thinking?
You just have to wonder what John Robitaille is thinking? He decides to drop out of the running (not that he was ever in) for governor in 2014 with a blast at voters. “Voters in Rhode Island seem to want bigger government. Higher taxes don’t seem to bother them. We’re always at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to business friendliness.’’
First off, Robitaille did his party a favor by taking himself out early in the process, clearing the field for other, more serious, candidates. But where does he get the idea that Republicans won’t be competitive in gubernatorial elections in Rhode Island?
Since the 1984 election, Democratic gubernatorial candidates in this cobalt blue Democratic-leaning state have won precisely two elections – Bruce Sundlun in 1990 and 1992, back in the days of the 2-year term. All the other governors have been Republicans, except for independent Lincoln Chafee, the current occupant of the second-floor corner State House office, who was once a Republican Warwick mayor and U.S. Senator.
Maybe the problem with Rhody Republicans is that they have too many candidates like John Robitaille, Brendan Doherty and Barry Hinckley, who think that high state and federal offices are entry-level positions for rookies. Robitaille ran a competitive, albeit underfunded, campaign for governor in 2010. He received barely one third of the votes among four serious candidates. He has some good ideas, but Robitaille has never been elected to any state or federal position; he even once lost a race for state rep.
Robitaille’s only real government experience came as communications director for Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri, arguably the worst governor in a generation or more. Carcieri ran as the businessman-jobs governor, but when he left office there were thousands of fewer Rhode Islanders working than the day he was sworn in. And don’t get the taxpayers started about Carcieri’s dumbest decision, the Curt Schilling-38 Studios fiasco.
If the GOP is looking for a candidate with a chance to regain the governorship, why not choose someone with a winning record who has held a substantial elected job? That would be someone like Alan Fung, the Cranston mayor, or Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian. Both Fung and Avedisian have records of accomplishment and honest dealing and they administer substantial budgets in their respective cities. Both Fung and Avedisian have been on the front lines of the taxing, spending and public pension issues that are at the forefront of government finances these days. And neither Fung nor Avedisian shoots from the hip, castigating voters for their choices on talk radio shows, a la Robitaille.