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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What about Bob?

Will Rep. Bob Watson’s 2nd Drug Arrest in 9 Months End His Political Career?   

The Providence Journal (and everyone else) is reporting that Rep. Bob Watson was arrested again for possession of marijuana early Sunday morning.

When the police arrived, they saw a white Volvo sedan in the lot, with its rubber tire missing from the rim on the front driver’s side. The driver’s side door was open and a man who identified himself as Robert Watson was standing beside it, according to the police. There were no passengers in the car.
“The officers observed what appeared to be a pipe commonly used to smoke marijuana on the driver’s side floor of the Volvo,” Buckley said. “The officers also discovered a clear sandwich bag containing a green, leafy substance believed to be marijuana in the area of the driver’s seat.”


Watson (to the left, without the badge) at his Connecticut
arraignment last year.
This is after his April, 2011 arrest in Connecticut for DUI and possession of marijuana when stopped at a sobriety checkpoint.

Police stopped Watson, a Republican state representative from the wealthy town of East Greenwich, Rhode Island at a police checkpoint in East Haven on Friday and there was a “strong odor of marijuana” coming from Watson’s car, East Haven Sgt. Gary DePalma said.
Which was after a comment made that offended the Guatemalan community (anyone who has ever watched Watson perform at his best on the House floor knows that this is pretty typical for him).

“I guess that if you are a Guatemalan gay man who likes to gamble and smoke marijuana, you probably think we are onto some good ideas here.”
Shortly after his April arrest, Rep. Watson was ousted as Minority Leader in the House on a vote of 6 to 2.
Considering this new arrest, his denial of the April charges and his statement regarding that arrest seem, ummm, less than authentic.

I honestly don’t really care whether or not Rep. Watson smokes pot.  And I give him credit for being a sponsor on the 2005 medical marijuana legislation.  I do care, however, that he was driving erratically, under the influence, and could have hurt or killed someone.  That isn’t cool at all.

But with this new arrest, my guess is that his days in the General Assembly are numbered.  While I’m not privy to any information regarding a Republican primary challenger (oddly, Republican Party insiders don’t like talking to me), there is at least one Democrat who formally kicked off his campaign in November, Dr. Mark Schwager.

Schwager served on the East Greenwich Town Council for two terms, from 2006 to 2010. He ran for former Sen. Michael Lenihan’s seat in the Nov. 2010 election, but lost in that contest to North Kingstown’s Dawson Hodgson.
In the 2010 election, Schwager lost to Hodgson by 928 votes (of a total of 11,084 cast).

Candidate
Total votes
Pct
Dawson Tucker HODGSON (REP)
6006
54.20%
Mark SCHWAGER (DEM)
5078
45.80%

Dr. Mark Schwager is well-known in East Greenwich politics.  In addition to the two terms he served on the East Greenwich Town Council and was recently appointed as the town’s Fire District Commissioner, by a unanimous vote.  Speaking about his campaign against Watson, he said:

“I just think it’s a better race for me,” he said. “I’m very involved in East Greenwich, in municipal politics and government and community service. I know the area really well, the issues really well. My kids have been through the school system. I have my medical practice here. I was on the Council here. So I’m just very focused on this community.”
Time will tell.
As for money, Bob Watson had $5,167.25 as of September 30, and Mark Schwager had $12,395.75 as of September 30.  The last quarter 2011 reports aren’t due until the 31st, and it will be interesting to see if Rep. Watson catches up.

And how is this for irony…
…released [Watson] at 4:20 a.m. Sunday morning.
4:20… now that’s funny.