No one is celebrating more today than the Gina Raimondo for Governor Campaign.
As Clay Pell officially kicks off his governor campaign Tuesday morning, Gina Raimondo has the most to gain.
When it came to a face off in a Democratic Primary against Angel Taveras, Raimondo had to be concerned about the union influence. The unions have been vocal about their outrage with Raimondo ever since the pension reform bill was passed and as a result there was no chance she would enjoy union support. Instead the highly organized unions would support Taveras and throw not only their money, (which is not a concern to Raimondo) but their manpower and political expertise behind him. However, the addition of Clay Pell in the race as a Democrat throws a monkey wrench into Taveras's almost guaranteed union support.
With Pell in the race it is likely the unions will be divided in their support, with the teacher unions backing Clay Pell who has a strong education background and local firefighter and police unions backing Taveras. As the unions determine their endorsements it is likely they will be divided between the two candidates.
And that leaves Gina Raimondo who can now take the divide and conquer approach. With the unions split between two candidates their influence in the primary will be far less impressive, clearing the way for Raimondo and her more than comfortable campaign coffer to grab the independent primary voters, the women vote, and undecided Democrats.
Raimondo biggest struggle will be with the Democratic base, many of who seem more than a little skeptical of Raimondo's seemingly conservative ways. She has eight months to change their minds and prove she is progressive enough to represent them in the Governor's office while at the same time making fiscally sound decisions. She has already begun the process by surrounding herself with known progressives and rolling out a progressive campaign platform.
Since large scale union support is virtually out of the picture for Raimondo, she instead can focus on targeting mainstream Democrats while Taveras and Pell work to court the unions.
If the divide and conquer thing works for Raimondo she will face off in a General Election against either Allan Fung or Ken Block. If she faces off against Fung, it is likely Fung will get a good amount of union support since they are vehemently opposed to Raimondo and he has a good reputation with union members in Cranston. As for the teachers unions they would either take a pass in the race or hold their nose and back Fung.
Meanwhile it is unclear what union support Block could or will get if he is the candidate. The biggest struggle Block would face in swaying any union support would be his career in the private sector. Because Block has not held an elected office the unions will not be able to judge Block on his past record. That, coupled with the Republican title he carries next to his name, would likely make any union weary of supporting him.