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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rhode Island Political Shorts

You can wear a button to vote…If you have an ID…Look who wants to be a Convention delegate…Doreen Costa wants to kill diabetics…Where is Curt Schilling?...Rick Perry might ride again…Orange is his natural color
By Will Collette

You CAN wear a political button when you vote. For a while, it looked like the RI Board of Elections was going to issue a ban on the wearing of political buttons, stickers, T-shirts, hats, etc., by voters when they went into polling places. State law forbids “electioneering” within a certain distance of polling places, and the BOE was considering whether wearing a button saying “Vote for *#&%*” while voting violated that law. Of course, poll workers are not allowed to wear anything that indicates their political feelings, but this new rule could have had some serious repercussions at polling places. Fortunately, the BOE changed its mind and rejected this proposed rule-change.

Voter ID Van Coming to Charlestown. On March 20, the Secretary of State’s mobile voter ID van will come to the Charlestown Senior Citizens Center for two hours – 10 AM to noon – to give voters who lack a government-issued photo ID a chance to get one for free. This is part of the implementation of Rhode Island’s ill-advised new Voter ID law that takes effect this year.

I’ve written several times about the problems with this law, but it does have the potential to block non-residents from illegally voting. The Charlestown-based RI Statewide Coalition and its step-child, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, have long advocated giving non-resident property owners the right to vote even though their actual home is in another state.

Over 100 Rhode Islanders want to go to the National Conventions. Over 100 people filed the paperwork to be placed on the April 24 Rhode Island Presidential Preference Primary ballot. When you go to the polls on April 24, you not only declare who you want as your party’s Presidential candidate, but you also get to pick who gets to go to the National Convention to vote for your selection. Here's the searchable database.

Teresa Tanzi with daughter Delia at Charlestown
fund-raiser for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
For Democrats, it’s pretty anticlimactic, since only President Obama will appear on the ballot. Nonetheless, quite a large number of people filed to get on the ballot to go to the Convention. Nearly all of the candidates for Congressional District Four come from upstate urban areas. In our area, a notable on the ballot is our friend, Rep. Teresa Tanzi of Wakefield.

For the Republicans, it’s a large and motley list. Looking to be delegates for Mitt Romney are former Governor Don Carcieri and his wife Sue (which is a surprise, since I thought the Donald and Sue were moving to Florida). Tea Party Rep. Doreen Costa wants to be a Romney delegate – and I’ll bet she’s catching some crap from her Tea Party base for that. Uber-conservative Hopkinton politician Scott Bill Hirst also wants to be a Romney Delegate.

Nick Gorham at the podium in
Charlestown on behalf of
Larry LeBlanc
Larry LeBlanc’s lawyer in the Whalerock litigation with Charlestown, Nick Gorham, wants to go to the GOP Convention as a Santorum delegate.

One of the local folks running as a Ron Paul delegate is Timothy Burchett. Burchett ran and lost against Rep. Teresa Tanzi in the last election. Burchett has a long history of following Ron Paul around the country, as well as affiliation with right-wing radical fringe groups.

NOT running as a Ron Paul delegate is former state Rep. Rod Driver, who used to hold the House seat now held by Larry Valencia. Driver has made major donations to Ron Paul and has written letters to the editor, including one published in the Westerly Sun this past week, supporting Paul’s candidacy. But I guess switching party affiliation was too big a step for Driver.

Republican fashionista Martha Stamp
Rounding out the list of delegate candidates of South County interest are two Gingrich delegate wannabees. Martha Stamp of South Kingstown manages to get her picture in the national media every year when she attends the Conservative Political Action Committee national convention wearing a silly hat. This year was no exception. The other is Michael Picillo, who ran and lost the House race for District 39 that covered northern Charlestown to Larry Valencia. Picillo’s family owned the infamous Picillo Pig Farm Superfund toxic waste site.

To get on the ballot to run for a Convention delegate seat, each declared candidate must turn in 150 qualified voters’ signatures by the end of business on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

We’ll let you know how all these folks made out.

Doreen Costa: You can't eat too
much chocolate
Doreen Costa wants to kill diabetics and make everyone else fat. In addition to her odd decision to want to be a Mitt Romney convention delegate, Tea Party darling Rep. Doreen Costa is hosting an odd fund-raiser on Sunday, “Chocolates with Costa,” that features all-you-can-eat chocolate items for a $25 donation to her campaign. I suppose this is one way for Costa to declare that she doesn’t approve of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity. As a  Pièce de résistance, Costa is going to have herself dipped in chocolate.

Where is Curt Schilling? After premiering his first video game – Kingdom of Amalur – in Bellingham, MASSACHUSETTS, Curt Schilling continues to make the rounds of everywhere but Rhode Island. Even the Providence Journal is getting a bit snippy with Schilling, who financed his game with a controversial $75 million loan guarantee from Rhode Island taxpayers. We loaned Schilling the money even though his company had no product – this game is their first – and shaky prospects. The ProJo noted that his downtown Providence offices have no identifying sign. Channel 10 visited the site and found it to be mostly empty. Schilling is rarely seen in Rhode Island and has not taken part in business leader efforts to come up with solutions to Rhode Island’s economic woes. But then again, why should he? He’s already got our money.

Thank the heavens! I was so worried we’d seen the last of Rick Perry on the national political scene. Since Perry, along with Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, dropped out of contention for the Republican Presidential nomination, we’ve been stuck with four dreary and boring guys who are more outrageous than funny.

But to my joy, Rick Perry told ABC News that he “absolutely” will consider running for President again: "I tell people it was by far the most exhilarating thing that I've ever done." He also said that he thinks the current GOP race is still “wide open,” perhaps hinting that he would be willing to be drafted as the Presidential nominee if the GOP Convention is deadlocked.