His push for "Buffett Rule" legislation, which would require the wealthy to pay the same tax rate as the middle class, has cast the differences between Democrats and Republicans in sharp relief.
And his DISCLOSE Act, which would require the sort of independent expenditure groups that have played an outsize role in the presidential election to reveal who is bankrolling their operations, is an important — if small — piece of the solution to our broken campaign finance system.
Whitehouse has also focused attention on the health of our oceans and tended to the nuts and bolts of disaster relief in Rhode Island.
GOP Senate candidate Barry Hinckley acquitted himself well in a recent WPRI-TV debate with Whitehouse. He may have a future in Ocean State politics. But the choice for Senate is clear. The Phoenix endorses Whitehouse for re-election.
Congressman James Langevin does not yet have a major legislative victory under his belt. But he has been an important voice for improving the nation's cybersecurity. And Congress came closer to passing a bi-partisan cybersecurity bill this year than ever before.
We part ways with Langevin, who is pro-life, on abortion rights. But Langevin is a reliable Democratic vote. And that matters in a closely divided Washington, with an increasingly off-the-rails GOP on the other side.
Independent Abel Collins, program manager for the Rhode Island chapter of the Sierra Club, has mounted an intriguing challenge to Langevin. He is a strong voice for public transit and other green issues. He says he would fight for tough financial regulation and a single-payer health care system in Washington.
He deserves a solid showing on November 6. But Langevin deserves re-election.
In an age of austerity, strong, progressive voices on Smith Hill are as important as ever. But preserving the safety net is not the only concern. Gay marriage will come before the General Assembly next year. And shifting the state senate to the left will be vital in winning Rhode Island's last, great civil rights fight.
There are plenty of good men and women running for office, but the Phoenix endorses the following candidates in contested elections.
In the House: Edith Ajello, Scott Slater, Grace Diaz, Arthur Handy, Teresa Tanzi, Donna Walsh, Larry Valencia, Jeremiah O'Grady, and Deborah Ruggiero.
In the Senate: Juan Pichardo, Adam Satchell, Donna Nesselbush, Ryan Pearson, Joshua Miller, Catherine Cool Rumsey, and V. Susan Sosnowski.
Rhode Island's slot parlors, Twin River and Newport Grand, want to expand into full-scale casinos with table games.
Voters need to be clear-eyed about the ills that could accompany expansion: more crime, more addiction. And casinos are not the job creators that supporters would have you believe.
But here's the reality: Twin River and Newport Grand are, collectively, the third largest source of revenue for our cash-strapped state government, behind only the income and sales taxes. And with Massachusetts gearing up for three full-scale casinos of its own — one just over the border — Rhode Island needs to protect its purse.
The Phoenix urges "yes" votes on Questions 1 and 2, which would allow Twin River and Newport Grand to convert to casinos.
We also urge "yes" votes on Questions 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Question 3 would provide $50 million in bonds for building renovations at Rhode Island College — a boost for our chronically underfunded higher education system.