TOM WARD - If Laffey returns to run, he’ll find a different state

TOM WARD - If Laffey returns to run, he’ll find a different state

So, former Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey, a “Reagan Republican” and fiscal conservative, is thinking about coming home, and maybe – just maybe – running for governor in 2022?

May I be the first to say to him, “be careful.” It’s a very different state than the one he left only nine years ago for Fort Collins, Colorado, and a quieter life with his young family. Times have changed. Here are a few things to consider for any Republican:

• A campaign is going to cost more. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo raised the bar for spending in her two runs – by a lot – doling out as much as $7 million in 2014. When Laffey was around, a governor’s race cost about $1 million. Those days are over.

• Democrats have learned a win is easy if third-party candidates enter the race.

• The census is shifting; the electorate has changed. Suburban baby boomers more likely to support Laffey’s ideas are now retiring, with some fleeing the state. Laffey voters are being replaced by urban voters who may not support his ideas.

• A growing progressive movement – supportive of high taxes and added regulations – will hate Laffey’s message of liberty and personal responsibility. They will scream him down in public at every chance. Theater and drama, yes. Will he be able to get his message out above the din, or will their drama be “the story?”

• The Providence Journal does a great job, day in and day out, covering state elections. It’s important free publicity for all candidates. But readership is way down in the past decade, and it will be costly to make up this loss of credible, shared information.

• Finally, Facebook and social media will be a sewer of lies. While Facebook talks a good game for moving toward honest ads in national campaigns, nobody there will care about local or state races, and last-minute misinformation will be pervasive. Laffey will have to punch back against that, too.

Laffey cites a laundry list of problems in Providence and the state. He sees the capital city on the brink of ruination and the pension fund nearly broke. The school system has been taken over by the state, something which has not worked well for the children of Central Falls. Taxes are high; doing business is difficult.

“There probably is some sense of urgency building (among voters),” Laffey told the Journal. “It’s so brutally bad.”

And then there are recent headlines:

• Economic times are as good as they are likely to get, and the state begins next year with a $200 million structural deficit. Many states have a surplus.

• Raimondo hired seven new employees – the Central Collections Unit – to collect money owed to the state. So far, they’ve amassed $196,000 of the millions owed. With the effort going poorly, the state hired an attorney, too. The waste is non-stop. Outside collectors and attorneys could have done the work for a straight percentage. Instead, we give the “unit” pay, benefits, health care, a short work week and pensions.

Do you think there’s a sense of urgency? Are voters angry? Or is the majority settled in and happy with the status quo, which is all they have ever known?

It’s not the Rhode Island you left, Mayor Laffey. I wish you luck.

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspaper.

Comments

Collected $196,000 cost in salaries $500,000 .Cant someone please take the train out of reverse. Really feeling like impeaching someone well their you go .

Who? Just kidding.

But, seriously, is there no Republican who is suitable and has lived here for the past 10 years?