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RI Gov.: Out of the Spotlight, Fogarty Threatening Carcieri

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RI Gov.: Out of the Spotlight, Fogarty Threatening Carcieri

By Lauren Phillips 5:08 PM; Jul. 05, 2006 Email This Article

The competitive Rhode Island Senate race featuring Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee has been the state's political scene-stealer this year. But recent polls suggest that Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, Rhode Island's other most prominent Republican officeholder, also finds himself in a highly vulnerable position as he bids for re-election.

A pair of recent statewide polls showed Carcieri in a statistical tie with his Democratic challenger, Lt. Governor Charles Fogarty. And a June 12 SurveyUSA poll showed Carcieri's job approval rating among Rhode Island respondents dropping to 49 percent, his lowest over the past year.

Rhode Island's top two officeholders are of different parties — and are facing off in the general election — because it is one of 19 states that elects its governor and lieutenant governor separately rather than on a single party ticket. Carcieri and Fogarty had a decent working partnership for much of their terms, but it has turned expectedly edgier since Fogarty announced his challenge March 6.

"They had a friendly relationship before the announcement, but now the lieutenant governor has been much more critical of the governor's vision, so the relationship has turned more frosty," said Darrell West, a Brown University professor of political science.

Carcieri said it's not significantly different, but added, "I'm sure as he gets more critical, it will get a little more strained."

Fogarty said he respects Carcieri and the office of the governor, and that the two have a cordial relationship. "The important thing is not to make it personal; in the end, let the people make the judgment," Fogarty said. "People deserve a hotly contested race. They deserve a choice."

Fogarty says he is focused on improving education and access to health care, and on promoting open and ethical government. He accuses Carcieri of allowing Rhode Island to stagnate and says the state is now at a crossroads. "I'm running, very simply, because I want to see our state be a leader in a number of areas," he said. "The leadership talks about change, but hasn't really delivered results."

Carcieri's profile as a moderate Republican — the only kind that can win major office in a state that normally is a Democratic stronghold — and his varied background as a manufacturing company executive, aid relief worker, bank executive and teacher — made him an appealing candidate for governor in 2002, his first bid for public office: He defeated Democrat Myrth York by 55 percent to 45 percent.

But it is difficult for any Republican to become "safe" in Rhode Island, a state that has gone Democratic in seven of the past eight elections for president and gave 2004 party nominee John Kerry a typically huge 20 percentage-point margin over President Bush.

Carcieri's election-year problems may have been deepened when he advocated a state budget measure that proposed lowering spending on some programs for the poor while cutting some taxes for wealthier residents. This angered some Democrats and has proven particularly controversial among union members and social service providers; some of those groups have been running negative ads criticizing the budget.

A June 12-15 statewide survey of Rhode Island residents described as likely voters, conducted by The Bureau of Government Research and Services at Rhode Island College, showed 44 percent for Carcieri to 39 percent for Fogarty. Factoring in a 4.9 percent margin of error, the race is in a "statistical dead heat," said Victor Profughi, the bureau's director. Seventeen percent of the 406 likely voters surveyed were undecided about their gubernatorial preferences.

"I'm surprised that it tightened up to this point," Profughi said. "An incumbent is usually in good shape, especially someone who seems to be popular, and Carcieri is reasonably popular. Lt. Gov. Fogarty has until recently maintained a much lower profile. Conventional wisdom would have said he wouldn't be as well known and not do as well in a pairing this early on."

Profughi cited the antipathy some of Carcieri's programs have sparked among union members, who make up a significant percentage of the Rhode Island electorate. "That then gets reflected in a vote for the opposition," Profughi said.

Another poll taken June 12 by the Rasmussen Report organization, showed an even tighter race, with Fogarty actually 1 percentage point ahead of Carcieri.

Fogarty said that polling ahead of an incumbent governor puts him in a good position, especially since he hasn't started a media campaign. But he added that he is maintaining his typical approach of viewing election races as though he's 20 points down. "Good news only makes us work harder," he said. "We understand there are a lot of ups and downs in campaigns."

Carcieri said he doesn't pay much attention to polls. He said until the Rhode Island legislative session ended June 24, he has been focused almost entirely on his job as governor and would focus more on campaigning now that the session is over.

He conceded that Fogarty is a formidable challenger in the Democratic-leaning state. "Any race is a tough race, I take it very seriously," Carcieri said. "I'm going to work on it very hard. I've got more to do. I've also got a record I'm very proud to run on."

He recognizes problems with union members, especially the leaders, after some of his legislative efforts, but stands behind them. "These are not draconian changes," he said, adding he feels this year's budget is "excellent."

Carcieri said he looks forward to a chance to debate Fogarty, adding, "What I've heard him say publicly is in direct contradiction to the facts."

This year's contest marks the end of a three-election run for York as the Democratic nominee. A former state senator, York ran a competitive bid in 1994 — a tough year for Democrats nationally — losing to Republican Lincoln C. Almond by 4 percentage points. But she slipped further behind in the two subsequent elections, losing to Almond by 9 points in 1998 and to Carcieri by 10 points in 2002.

CQ rates the contest as Leans Republican. Please visit CQPolitics.com's Election Forecaster for ratings of all races. RI Gov.: Out of the Spotlight, Fogarty Threatening Carcieri
By Lauren Phillips 5:08 PM; Jul. 05, 2006 Email This Article

The competitive Rhode Island Senate race featuring Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee has been the state's political scene-stealer this year. But recent polls suggest that Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, Rhode Island's other most prominent Republican officeholder, also finds himself in a highly vulnerable position as he bids for re-election.

A pair of recent statewide polls showed Carcieri in a statistical tie with his Democratic challenger, Lt. Governor Charles Fogarty. And a June 12 SurveyUSA poll showed Carcieri's job approval rating among Rhode Island respondents dropping to 49 percent, his lowest over the past year.

Rhode Island's top two officeholders are of different parties — and are facing off in the general election — because it is one of 19 states that elects its governor and lieutenant governor separately rather than on a single party ticket. Carcieri and Fogarty had a decent working partnership for much of their terms, but it has turned expectedly edgier since Fogarty announced his challenge March 6.

"They had a friendly relationship before the announcement, but now the lieutenant governor has been much more critical of the governor's vision, so the relationship has turned more frosty," said Darrell West, a Brown University professor of political science.

Carcieri said it's not significantly different, but added, "I'm sure as he gets more critical, it will get a little more strained."

Fogarty said he respects Carcieri and the office of the governor, and that the two have a cordial relationship. "The important thing is not to make it personal; in the end, let the people make the judgment," Fogarty said. "People deserve a hotly contested race. They deserve a choice."

Fogarty says he is focused on improving education and access to health care, and on promoting open and ethical government. He accuses Carcieri of allowing Rhode Island to stagnate and says the state is now at a crossroads. "I'm running, very simply, because I want to see our state be a leader in a number of areas," he said. "The leadership talks about change, but hasn't really delivered results."

Carcieri's profile as a moderate Republican — the only kind that can win major office in a state that normally is a Democratic stronghold — and his varied background as a manufacturing company executive, aid relief worker, bank executive and teacher — made him an appealing candidate for governor in 2002, his first bid for public office: He defeated Democrat Myrth York by 55 percent to 45 percent.

But it is difficult for any Republican to become "safe" in Rhode Island, a state that has gone Democratic in seven of the past eight elections for president and gave 2004 party nominee John Kerry a typically huge 20 percentage-point margin over President Bush.

Carcieri's election-year problems may have been deepened when he advocated a state budget measure that proposed lowering spending on some programs for the poor while cutting some taxes for wealthier residents. This angered some Democrats and has proven particularly controversial among union members and social service providers; some of those groups have been running negative ads criticizing the budget.

A June 12-15 statewide survey of Rhode Island residents described as likely voters, conducted by The Bureau of Government Research and Services at Rhode Island College, showed 44 percent for Carcieri to 39 percent for Fogarty. Factoring in a 4.9 percent margin of error, the race is in a "statistical dead heat," said Victor Profughi, the bureau's director. Seventeen percent of the 406 likely voters surveyed were undecided about their gubernatorial preferences.

"I'm surprised that it tightened up to this point," Profughi said. "An incumbent is usually in good shape, especially someone who seems to be popular, and Carcieri is reasonably popular. Lt. Gov. Fogarty has until recently maintained a much lower profile. Conventional wisdom would have said he wouldn't be as well known and not do as well in a pairing this early on."

Profughi cited the antipathy some of Carcieri's programs have sparked among union members, who make up a significant percentage of the Rhode Island electorate. "That then gets reflected in a vote for the opposition," Profughi said.

Another poll taken June 12 by the Rasmussen Report organization, showed an even tighter race, with Fogarty actually 1 percentage point ahead of Carcieri.

Fogarty said that polling ahead of an incumbent governor puts him in a good position, especially since he hasn't started a media campaign. But he added that he is maintaining his typical approach of viewing election races as though he's 20 points down. "Good news only makes us work harder," he said. "We understand there are a lot of ups and downs in campaigns."

Carcieri said he doesn't pay much attention to polls. He said until the Rhode Island legislative session ended June 24, he has been focused almost entirely on his job as governor and would focus more on campaigning now that the session is over.

He conceded that Fogarty is a formidable challenger in the Democratic-leaning state. "Any race is a tough race, I take it very seriously," Carcieri said. "I'm going to work on it very hard. I've got more to do. I've also got a record I'm very proud to run on."

He recognizes problems with union members, especially the leaders, after some of his legislative efforts, but stands behind them. "These are not draconian changes," he said, adding he feels this year's budget is "excellent."

Carcieri said he looks forward to a chance to debate Fogarty, adding, "What I've heard him say publicly is in direct contradiction to the facts."

This year's contest marks the end of a three-election run for York as the Democratic nominee. A former state senator, York ran a competitive bid in 1994 — a tough year for Democrats nationally — losing to Republican Lincoln C. Almond by 4 percentage points. But she slipped further behind in the two subsequent elections, losing to Almond by 9 points in 1998 and to Carcieri by 10 points in 2002.

CQ rates the contest as Leans Republican. Please visit CQPolitics.com's Election Forecaster for ratings of all races.

http://www.cqpolitics.com/2006/07/ri_gov_out_of_the_spotlight_fo.html

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