The Rhode Island Tea Party has endorsed a slate of 45 candidates for the General Assembly — 38 Republicans, five independents, and two Democrats. And in low-turnout elections, a strong get-out-the-vote operation in this or that race could make a difference.
One contest to keep an eye on: Tea Party-backed Doreen Costa, running as a Republican against nine-term Democratic Representative Kenneth Carter of North Kingstown.
THE LATINO VOTE
It is a favorite argument in Rhody's political hackosphere. The Latino vote — rising force or overhyped sideshow?
Well, even if one tends toward the "overhyped" analysis, it is clear that every segment of the electorate is important in a close race — and most of the recent polls have Chafee and Caprio neck-and-neck.
Chafee has won the backing of many Latino leaders with his opposition to Governor Carcieri's executive order requiring government contractors to use the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of employees.
But the issue has hardly been a headliner in the campaign, which leaves the pundit class wondering: will Latino voters break from their traditional allegiance to the Democrats? And, perhaps more important, will they even turn out to vote?
A recent national poll by the Pew Hispanic Center suggests not — just 51 percent of Latino voters said they would definitely go to the polls on Tuesday compared to 70 percent of all voters.
Of course, there is some reason to believe Rhode Island will see a bigger turnout than other parts of the country: Angel Taveras is on the ballot and seems poised to become Providence's first Latino mayor.
But with his victory all but assured — he faces an independent with little name recognition — will his Latino supporters feel compelled to turn out?
THE PROVIDENCE ASCENDANCE
Rhode Island may be a city-state, but the metropolis at its center — Providence — has been a bit of a political backwater of late.
After Senator Sheldon Whitehouse ditched the capital city for Newport a couple of years ago, that left a Congressional delegation with nary a Providence resident.
The governor and Senate president are from elsewhere, too. And until recently, the House speakership was in the hands of a West Warwick representative, Bill Murphy.
Gordon Fox, of Providence, is now the speaker. And he could soon have some company in the upper echelons of power, it seems. Cicilline, the Providence mayor, appears poised to join Congress. Caprio, also of the capital city, could very well be governor — unless voters tell him to shove it.
And Gina Raimondo, who should waltz into the treasurer's office — and may walk all the way to Washington some day — is also from Providence.
Now, let's see if any of the new elite can do something about those potholes.
David Scharfenberg can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.