Lots of attention has been paid to the wife of gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell lately.
Olympic Figure Skater Michelle Kwan is taking some slack for listing her hometown as Washington D.C. in a national Coca-cola ad.
Meanwhile, the actual candidate Clay Pell seems to be MIA. Literally. There have been no Clay Pell public events recently and most of the press interaction he has had has been through his well known spokesperson Bill Fischer, who by the way, will not be the spokesperson much longer. Fischer announced that he will no longer be working for the Pell campaign but instead pursuing other public relations endeavors.
Pell loaned his campaign $1 million and had all the pomp and circumstance of a gubernatorial announcement but now it seems he is putting in a lack luster effort while his two Democratic opponents, Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras, are out in the community and hosting events. There is no question that Raimondo and Taveras are campaigning and are campaigning hard.
Some say that Clay Pell just isn't a serious candidate. That he is following the Barry Hinckley philosophy. Remember when Barry Hinckley ran for U.S. Senate and a video of him speaking to business leaders surfaced where he said people should just run for office to get their names out there, even if they can't win. It wasn't a bad piece of advice and for someone like Clay Pell who has been virtually absent from Rhode Island politics over the past decade, it could work.
If Pell has his eyes on his grandfather's old Senate seat a gubernatorial run might just do the trick to get his name out there while he waits, like a good Democrat, for either Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse or Sen. Jack Reed to move on. Some think either Whitehouse or Reed may be up for some top national post. Many suggest Whitehouse is a pretty serious contender for U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
Then there is the Clay Pell conspiracy theory. Some politicos think Pell might be in cahoots with Raimondo. It has been rumored that Pell may be a Raimondo plant to secure a September Primary win for Raimondo in exchange for a future political appointment, possibly to the U.S. Senate if either Whitehouse or Reed grabs their own political appointment. This is probably less likely the case, because many believe Raimondo has her own eyes on Washington, however in this state where political jobs are worth more than gold it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
Most political talkers seem to agree that Pell's entry into the race hurts Taveras not Raimondo. The thought process is that Taveras and Pell will divide the public sector unions and Raimondo will prevail but attracting more independent democrats.
However, it is difficult to take the young candidate seriously when he has been so politically uninvolved that he has not voted in several elections. That is why it's likely that Pell is looking to return to Washington where he has made friends and a home for himself over the past several years when he was working for the United States Department of Education.
If Pell is a serious contender, which his $1 million investment would suggest, he may just be aloof. Coming from Washington society to lil ol' Rhody might be a culture shock and he has not quite grasped how to adjust. Pell has never ran for office before so this adjustment to a statewide campaign might be another struggle for the candidate. Nonetheless, Pell is managing to get attention, even if it is because of his famous wife. The problem is Pell needs to harness that attention and at the same time prove to Rhode Islanders that he is indeed a serious candidate and has plans for Rhode Island. People question Pell's dedication to the state and Pell needs to prove otherwise if he has legitimate plans to be the next Governor of Rhode Island.
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Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.