Bakst: Taveras 'Wall Street' ad dishonest

Bakst: Taveras 'Wall Street' ad dishonest

Outraged by an Angel Taveras ad, I have a question to ask. And I'm asking because it's important that we elect the best governor and it's important that campaigns themselves be intellectually honest. This registered independent voter will go into the Sept. 9 Democratic primary and vote for Gina Raimondo.

Now here's my question:

How panicked must Mayor Taveras be that he recently launched a TV spot that is a brutal frontal assault on Raimondo as well as another salvo at Clay Pell? You don't need polls to tell you. This commercial speaks volumes. I have my own doubts about Pell's lack of demonstrable experience. But it is the mayor's attack on Raimondo, far uglier than anything previous, that compels me to speak up here. The Raimondo campaign labels Taveras' charges against her false and hypocritical, and those folks are far better equipped to make that case than I.

But I take particular exception to the commercial's conclusion, "Raimondo works for Wall Street." This is an inflammatory iteration of a constant Taveras whine. Myself, I thought Raimondo was working for the taxpayers of Rhode Island when she had the smarts, skills, and courage to orchestrate and put through the Democratic General Assembly an overhaul of the pension system in order to stabilize state finances, preserve social services, and afford long-term assurance that employees will actually have pensions. I thought she was working for the citizens of Rhode Island when she cleared the backlog in the crime victims' compensation fund. I thought her efforts in private life to bolster the ability of Crossroads Rhode Island to shelter people who need it were a welcome step to address a problem that is a blight upon our society.

Was she working for Wall Street then? Was she working for Wall Street when she aired a poignant commercial featuring a woman who had been abused? Is Raimondo working for Wall Street when she makes intelligent, credible proposals for job creation, education, infrastructure improvement and raises such issues as gun control, domestic violence, and human trafficking? And by the way, do the trade unions who support her - you know, construction, plumbers, bricklayers and the rest - do they think she works for Wall Street?

Does Sen. Donna Nesselbush, who was a prime leader in the marriage equality movement? Do the Women's Campaign Fund and the Italian American Democratic Leadership Council? And the Latino public officials who support her? And the numerous Democratic city and town committees who back her?

When I was the Providence Journal political columnist and people asked me what they could do to improve life here, I urged them to get active in politics, something I was not free to do at that time. Now, in my retirement, I have plunged in - unpaid, no titles, but doing what I can to support candidates I admire, including Raimondo.

She is not perfect. But she is not running against a Mr. Perfect. She is running against Taveras and Pell. But let me give the last word to Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, who says of Raimondo: "She has the toughness and the Democratic values that will make a great governor for Rhode Island."

M. Charles Bakst