Democrat Clay Pell Kicks Off Campaign for Governor - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Democrat Clay Pell Kicks Off Campaign for Governor

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com

"Well hello everybody. I am Michelle Kwan's husband!" said Clay Pell.

It's was a funny opening line as Clay Pell kicked off his campaign for Governor - a shout out to his more famous Olympian wife, Michelle Kwan.

But it turned serious fast as Pell proposed education and economic reforms, even taking a swipe at the "38 Studios" mess.

"The SEC is investigating; the litigation is ongoing. And we need to get more information before we spend more money, chasing after bad money," Pell said.

Pell served in the Coast Guard and worked in the White House, but has never held elective office.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "The three-way battle for the Democratic nomination for Governor will soon become a battle for key endorsements."

Some public unions are openly picketing Democratic candidate Gina Raimondo over the state's pension reforms, and city unions are not fully supportive of Angel Taveras.

So will public unions back Clay Pell?

"I've been involved with labor and progressive politics for over 30 years. And I am going to do everything I can to encourage my colleagues in all of those areas to come forward and support Clay Pell for Governor," said Bob Walsh, who heads the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Education Association – the teacher's union.

Also on stage today, Clay Pell's grandmother Nuala, window of the late Senator Claiborne Pell.

The sentimental appeal to voters resonates.

"I think of the people I know who got through school and have careers and support their families, because of the Pell Grants," said Sharon Wollschlager, a Pell supporter from Bristol.

That kind of name recognition could be a powerful campaign tool that no one else has in this race.

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