Fecteau: The Progressive Argument for Supporting Raimondo in the Primary

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As the primary race for governor draws to a close, I would like to express my support for Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.

Some have called to make a case for her progressive candidacy. I’m happy to do it.  

Governor Raimondo has a litany of accomplishments, and is a superior candidate by far compared to the alternative–Matt Brown.

She brought Rhode Island back from the brink of the economic abyss and has made Rhode Island a better place to live. This comes after the disgraceful inaction of her predecessor, and newly-minted progressive darling former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee (who has endorsed Brown for governor).

Raimondo is also the more electable candidate. She’s far more competitive against Cranston Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung–even without the Joe Trillo independent factor stealing votes. Adding Trillo to the mix would hurt Fung exponentially in a general election. Brown also has proven he cannot raise the funds necessary to defeat Fung in the general election.

More Competitive

Not many know Brown anyway. And those that do remember his ethical lapses of judgment. Brown was away for years, but doing what exactly? He was making almost $300,000 a year from his non-profit organization Global Zero, living in Washington D.C. I know many struggling families that volunteer for non-profits without such a hefty salary, and add a $300k salary to boot–they would happily live the high life in D.C.

This year, Matt Fecteau is planning to vote for incumbent Governor Gina Raimondo.

Raimondo’s progressive track record speaks for itself. Raimondo fought to increase the minimum wage, and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. She also seeks to expand medical marijuana dispensaries for people with a license. In response to the horrendous mass shootings, Raimondo signed a “red flag” and “bump stock” legislation to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and violent.

There is so much more. In an affront to actions of Congress, Raimondo signed an executive order to protect “net neutrality” at the state level to make certain that this critical right is protected. And her most progressive idea yet is the free community college program that will help thousands of students avoid grueling debt just to obtain an education.

Reducing our Carbon Footprint

Raimondo has shown she has a willingness to invest in our future while reducing our carbon footprint. She has focused on doubling the amount of renewable energy. Since her election in 2014, Rhode Island has added more than 5,000 green jobs – a 66% increase, and Raimondo intends to expand that to 20,000 in 2020. These are not small progressive feats, but are serious legislative accomplishments that are worthy of any candidate deemed progressive.

It is equally important to recognize that Rhode Island made history by electing its first female governor, and a champion of all women. Raimondo – who received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood – is a champion of women’s reproductive rights. She supports a number of bills that would protect the rights of all women. Raimondo has been given an unfair ‘mixed choice’ rating because she had to modify the state healthcare exchange in order to keep it funded in response to a lawsuit due to a conservative General Assembly. If she didn’t modify the exchange to allow for an option that didn’t fund abortions, it would have jeopardized the entire state exchange. Raimondo should be thanked for rescuing the state exchange, and not disingenuously condemned.  

Imperfect, But Worthy of a Vote

Like everyone else, Raimondo isn’t perfect. She didn’t fulfill her promise of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants the first year in office – but she is still working on it. I am disappointed she didn’t sign an executive order for an assault weapons ban.

As for those dreaded Medicaid cuts, I hope to avoid the Medicaid cuts, but the unfortunate reality is they are spiraling out of control. Her Democratic opponent, Brown, points out he opposes those cuts and supports repealing tax cuts on the rich and corporations. Even with the repeal of these respective tax cuts, Rhode Island still won’t be able to afford Medicaid’s hefty price tag in the years to come. This is the same reason Chafee (the person that endorsed Brown) signed into law significant Medicaid cuts while he was governor.

Brown has the advantage of running on a non-existent track record, and making promises he would be hard-pressed to keep. Even if we repeal of the tax cuts on the corporations and rich, Brown still has not articulated how he will pay for the restoration of the pensions. Many of the problems Raimondo inherited, including UHIP are the fault of Chafee–the individual who endorsed Brown. That is especially telling.

That is why I am supporting Raimondo this democratic primary. I don’t agree with her on everything, but her progressive track record is, in one word, amazing, and unlike Brown, very tangible. Raimondo is the leader Rhode Island needs especially at a time like this; someone willing to be an impetus for positive progressive change that Rhode Island so desperately needs. This is the case for Raimondo and I hope you will consider supporting her this coming primary election.

Matthew Fecteau
Matt Fecteau of Pawtucket, Rhode Island is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an Iraq War veteran. Send him email at Matthew.Fecteau@gmail.com
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