ARLENE VIOLET - Load gun, shoot foot

ARLENE VIOLET - Load gun, shoot foot

Two candidates have made self-inflicted wounds to their respective gubernatorial quest. Perhaps it is early enough for each of them to recover from the shot to the foot. Then again, maybe not.

Clay Pell - GoLocalProv writer Victor Paul Alvarez wrote a recent story documenting that Pell didn't vote in half of the elections for which he was eligible. Coupled with the story, also in GoLocalProv, that his wife only voted once in California during the last 15 years for which she was eligible, the articles feed into the perception that neither has lived in Rhode Island long enough to understand the issues and he seems to have dropped in to become governor like some divine right. It also didn't help the Pell cause that the Coca-Cola ads starring his wife referred to Michelle Kwan as a Washington, D.C., resident.

Some might think it is unfair to go after wives, but when that spouse is in the middle of the campaign, she becomes fair game. Kwan spoke at his announcement and often travels on the campaign trail with him.

The exodus of Bill Fischer, his political operative, doesn't bode well for the organization. In an early column, I wrote that this campaign is Pell's to lose. He's on the road to doing so.

Treasurer Gina Raimondo - Raimondo has her base of support among those who recognize her courage in promoting pension reform. Ironically, the public sector employees should be throwing her a ticker-tape parade for saving their pensions, but many are too blind to see the benefit. So, instead, Raimondo took a left turn to woo the unattainable and managed to turn off constituents who were supporting her. Here's what she did.

The State Investment Commission, which she heads, invested pension funds in January 2012 in Daniel Loeb's Third Point LLC. Fifty million dollars was placed there in order for the state to meet its 7.5 percent target return. Third Point has been a star, returning 24.7 percent, while its competitors as a class averaged 17.1 percent, and the state's total return was 14 percent. In turn, it was time for Raimondo to throw him a ticker-tape parade, but instead she and the commission she controls fired Loeb.

The heave-ho came as a result of teacher union pressure. Loeb and his wife contribute copious amounts of money to charter schools, particularly in poor neighborhoods. That has provoked the ire of Randi Weingarten, the American Federation of Teachers president, who tries to torpedo these efforts. The AFT leaned on Raimondo to pull the funds from Loeb's company and she complied.

The treasurer's office has given a weak "excuse," claiming that it was to remove the "beta risk" (i.e. sensitivity to equity market moves.) The fact is that the treasurer's office knew this factor back in 2012. A decreased investment in exposure to equities would normally follow such a reasoning, but the commission instead increased its equity exposure, underscoring what a fig leaf the "explanation" is.

Raimondo will not have union support, since as The Wall Street Journal accurately points out, they will have to make an example of her lest other Democrats follow suit and seek pension reform. Her losing gamble also will cost her some votes of those supporters who see her now in retreat.

Violet is an attorney and a former state attorney general.