Rhode Island’s Democrat governor, Gina Raimondo, has been pledging to do “whatever is needed” for a lot of people who aren’t Rhode Islanders, lately. First she became one of six co-chairs of a new PAC called “Organizing Together 2020.” As she says, “good organizing takes time.” The she became a co-chair of Mike Bloomberg’s campaign for president, another national political effort that is not focused on Rhode Island.
Rhode Islanders might wonder what they’re paying her for. We should also worry about what we’re paying her for.
After all, her fellow activists in Organizing Together are in large part labor unions:
The group includes labor unions — Service Employees International Union, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — and a collection of progressive advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood Votes, the Color of Change PAC, the NAACP and VoteVets, according to a news release.
One of the major challenges of the remaining years of her gubernatorial administration is going to be the improvement of Providence schools. The state has taken over the district; the governor has hired a new education commissioner; and the commissioner has hired a new superintendent. Whether the officials involved will admit it publicly or not, this project is going to require pressure to be put on the teachers union. How does that play out when the governor has made common cause with their national organizations? How can the families of Providence trust that she’s fully on their side as their governor?
As for the Bloomberg move, what’s notable is the focus on career moves. The promise of a local campaign office for a presidential candidate who is a billionaire many times over gives the governor jobs to hand out out to allies… jobs that have nothing to do with governing Rhode Island. And the responsibilities of a national campaign co-chair will give the governor reason to be outside the state, networking and building her brand in key battleground states that aren’t Rhode Island.
Again the question arises: Does Gina Raimondo want to end her terms as governor on a high note from the perspective of the people of Rhode Island, or from the perspective of an ambitious career-building politician?