Rhode Islanders have gotten used to national accolades for Democrat Gina Raimondo since the supposedly groundbreaking pension reform that she championed as general treasurer in 2011. Most recently, Fortune magazine’s senior editor Dan Primack has proclaimed Raimondo to be “worth keeping tabs on,” with the provocative lede: “How tiny Rhode Island suddenly became a case study in good government.”
A more-true statement would be that the Ocean State is a case study in the perils of superficial political analysis from people outside of the state.
Primack notes that the state’s government labor unions sued to stop the pension reform, but he presents Raimondo’s ascent to governor as a reward from satisfied voters. In reality, the 2014 gubernatorial race proved (once again) the dysfunction of Rhode Island politics. Raimondo won with just 40.7 percent of the vote, thanks to the last-minute entry into the race of a perennial novelty candidate.