Believe me that I’d rather write about just about anything other than Republican Minority Leader Patricia Morgan’s endorsement of independent gubernatorial candidate Joe Trillo, but it feels obligatory to do so. Here’s the text from Trillo’s Facebook announcment:
House Republican Leader Patricia Morgan endorsed me for governor today…
And, three outstanding individuals are agreeing to work with the my administration to bring RI back on track.
Arlene Violet, John Robitaille and Ken Block.
I have always believed that we need an Inspector General who can help to maximize the efficiency of state government, to which Arlene Violet, former Attorney General, a woman with outstanding credentials, has also agreed to serve in my administration…
Also John Robitaille and Ken Block have agreed to assist my administration when I am elected governor.
Where to start? How about the quick and easy points?
- As I’ve already explained, having the governor appoint an inspector general and (especially) announce the person before the election is a terrible, terrible idea. An inspector general must be independent, and there is no way this approach produces independence. And to appoint Arlene Violet, who parroted that nonsense talking point about Obama’s administration being largely “scandal free” is beyond belief.
- I’ve asked Ken Block, and he says he would absolutely work with a Fung administration, too. In fact, he tells me that Allan Fung has already asked him to lend his expertise to good government.
- I’ve reached out to Robitaille with the same question, and I will be shocked if he does not reply with pretty much the same answer, at least with regard to the “would you if asked” component.
Now the harder points: I just don’t get how conservatives or non-Democrats could take the stand that it’s better for Gina Raimondo to win another term than for an imperfect Republican to displace her. There’s a level of personal animosity that — while I can understand and even agree with some of the grievances — just boggles my mind. This is politics. It’s not about (or shouldn’t be about) whether it’s fair that one person or another is a party’s standard bearer. If the person who is in that place would be better than the other party’s alternative, that’s just how parties work.
Ultimately, this is about the good of the state, and honestly, I haven’t seen any reasonable argument that Fung wouldn’t be better for the state than Raimondo, and if the Fung-haters disagree, they should make that case.
But this is the problem with having such a weak and minuscule opposition party. When the numbers get this low, the party has precious few economic incentives for people to stick with the team through disagreement, and maybe more importantly, the people who remain are more likely to be eccentric and bull-headed. (I say this as somebody who must confess to those traits, myself.)
Even if only because of the base of supporters to whom he must offer at least the appearance of concern, Fung would be preferable to Raimondo. Even somebody trying to play word-games on abortion is better than one who is all in when it comes to supporting Planned Parenthood. Somebody talking broad tax rate reductions rather than crony capitalism is preferable. Somebody who would (probably) stop a sexist annual essay contest that excludes half of Rhode Island children by design is preferable.
At the end of the day, anybody who thinks Fung would be better than Raimondo on net in any degree must conclude that Trillo and Morgan are doing a terrible thing that may undo the better part of the good for which many of us would credit them.