Your superior correspondents, after a few belts of Pernod and grapefruit to get us in the mood, tuned in to the Democratic Congressional primary debate on the big screen in Casa Diablo's Boom Boom Room this week.
As the two height-challenged contestants waited at their podiums for the rumble to start, visions of the legendary midget wrestler, Sky Low Low, danced in our heads. The debate didn't take long to pick up steam as challenger Ant-knee Gemma quickly called the reigning champ, Chi Chi Cicilline, a liar. Chi Chi wouldn't even deign to look at Ant-knee, who soon starting ticking off the same charges of voter fraud he made at his "game changer" press conference last week.
As was the case at said presser, Ant-knee had little of what one would call "evidence" to support his claims. A videotape of a guy seemingly shopping absentee ballots, aired on local television, was inconclusive at best. And Ant-knee says he can't show you the real damning stuff his detectives have uncovered because he's turned it over to law enforcement.
Meanwhile, the Gemma campaign itself was staring down controversy. A volunteer was forced to quit when he tweeted that Chi Chi was a "Sandusky copycat." And the tweet had a former, high-level campaign staffer declaring the comment emblematic of a homophobic campaign.
It was no surprise that Chi Chi, the former Providence mayor, fared rather well in the debate. But he did come off as slick at times. In 2010, he famously declared the capital city to be in "excellent" fiscal condition. When debate panelist Ed Achorn, of the ProJo, asked what one word he would use now, Cicilline provided an embarrassing non-answer.
A word on the boisterous crowd. Your superior correspondents haven't seen such a mixture of cheers and boos since the last time we were at a WWF steel cage match. Whichever midget wrestler emerges triumphant (and we'd put our money on Chi Chi at this point) will have to enter the ring with the big guy, Republican Brendan Doherty, and that will be a whole 'nother story.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID
Given the state of Rhode Island politics, P&J must credit any campaign that isn't just an embarrassing public display of boasting and bullshit. (Ant-knee Gemma will not be getting any huzzahs here.)
Doherty, the GOP challenger for Little Rhody's First Congressional District seat, seems to understand the value of keeping his message simple and sensible. P&J have already told Brendan — unsolicited, of course — that the best thing he can do is 1) put himself on a poster, dressed in his hot leather state trooper uniform and posed beneath the slogan "You Can Trust Me," and 2) keep his mouth shut unless it becomes absolutely necessary to speak.
It appears he has not totally ignored our astute advice, as he is using his outstanding record as a leading law enforcement officer and his reputation for integrity to mount a credible campaign.
The message came through loud and clear in Doherty's recent radio ad, which pricked up P&J's ears with the line, "I've spent my life in public service, I don't need a career in politics."