It’s Crowne Plaza Month for Rhode Island Democrats
Warning: If you hung out at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick for three or more days last week, you either suffer from an unhealthy addiction to Rhode Island politics, or you need to seek a raise from whatever company forced you to attend so many fundraisers in one week.
Warwick was indeed the center of the political universe for the last full week of January, as Governor Dan McKee, House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio each kicked off the fundraising season with events at the same location.
The jealousy-stricken people at the Marriott on Orms Street declined to comment, except to argue that they offer more comfortable couches in their lobby. (Note: Politicians reported spending $305,000 at Crown Plaza hotels since 2010, compared to just $111,000 at Marriott properties.)
The general consensus was that Shekarchi, who reported $1.7 million in his campaign account in early December after blowout victories in his Democratic primary and general election, had the best turnout, followed by Ruggerio, and then McKee.
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Ruggerio and McKee were more in need of a cash infusion, as both men had slightly more difficult campaigns last year. The Senate president reported $35,000 in his campaign account at the end of 2022, and McKee was down to $18,000 in early December.
Another round of campaign finance reports will be filed tomorrow, but the results of their Crowne Plaza fundraisers won’t be reported until the end of April.
While political insiders buzzed about McKee’s modest turnout, those close to the governor were quick to point out that he held a series of smaller fundraisers leading up to his big event. Besides, it snowed quite a bit last Monday.
Still, it’s clear that McKee is already starting to think about getting re-elected in 2026. That’s no surprise since he often talks about his Rhode Island 2030 plan, which would be his last year in office if he wins.
Shekarchi and Ruggerio have both indicated they intend to seek re-election in two years, and both men expressed confidence that the results of last year’s elections (along with a lack of opposition within their respective chambers) sign is that they can hold on to their leadership positions.
The politicians will continue to show the Crowne Plaza love this week as House Majority Leader Chris Blazejewski (Tuesday) and Senate Majority Leader Ryan Pearson (Thursday) have fundraisers on the books.
This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also includes information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you want to receive it by email Monday to Friday, you can subscribe here.
Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.