Dee from the Desk: We Can Work it Out - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Dee from the Desk: We Can Work it Out

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And finally the Republican gubernatorial candidates are fighting a common enemy.

On Tuesday instead of taking pot shots at each other, Allan Fung and Ken Block took on a Democrat: Governor Lincoln Chafee. After Chafee declared that the two were unfit for the governor’s office because they do not support paying back the 38 Studios loan money, the two fired back at the governor questioning his leadership abilities.

Two important things happened here.

First off, despite the fact that Block and Fung try to deny that they have similar plans, yesterday they were called out collectively for having the same idea; don’t pay the loans. This is not the only thing the two Republicans agree on but if you have been following this divisive primary you may think that it is.

Both candidates taking on Chafee instead of each other was a breath of fresh air for Republicans. This is one of the first times the party has been unified since the primary battle started. And what better to be unified against than a common enemy: Republican turncoat, Lincoln Chafee.

The second significant thing that happened here is for the first time since becoming a Democrat Chafee is flexing his muscles. This is not trivial. Chafee has decided to take the two Republican candidates to task, using his influence as the sitting governor. It wasn't a weak challenge either. Chafee used strong language calling the candidates unfit and irresponsible.  Regardless of who Chafee supports in the Democratic Primary, he as governor threw his weight behind his fellow Democrats. He asserted a party position (repay the loans) and challenged the other side for their position. While repaying the loans might not be an official position of the Democratic Party, it is the seemingly mainstream Democrat position which the gubernatorial candidates, governor, and many of the elected officials have taken.

Using an elected office to have a positive impact for your political party is a luxury that Democrats in Rhode Island enjoy and the Republicans don't. The Republicans do not have any elected state officers; they just have two mayors and a handful of representatives. As a result, it is hard for these guys to carry much weight among the general populace. On the other hand, the Democrats control all of the state’s top positions, so they are able to use the bully pulpit and assert themselves, their party, and their positions.

The 38 Studios repayment issue is likely to become a crevassing issue in this election. The situation has gotten so much attention that even Rhode Islanders who don’t follow the news or politics daily are likely to have some opinion on whether the state should pay. The fact that Chafee took on the Republicans for saying the state should not pay suggests that the Democrats might be a little worried that a Republican could win this election or at least influence popular opinion. If they weren’t worried there would be no reason to respond. If the Democrats can make the positions of Block and Fung seem completely outlandish and irresponsible to the public, they not only discredit Block and Fung’s candidacies but they also gain support for the repayment of the loans.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the 38 Studios issue is one of the key issues for voters in the General Election in November. It is easy enough to grasp, if you think the state should repay vote Democrat, if not vote Republican. While the intricacies of the 38 Studios loan deal might be above most people’s heads, people do understand that Rhode Island got a bad deal and now the state needs to decide how to handle it. There are pros and cons on each side depending what you believe.

38 Studios is a situation that is so uniquely Rhode Island that it is no shock that it is in the centerfold of many of these campaigns. It has a mix of everything Rhode Islanders love and despise about this little state; insider deals, potential corruption, shady politicians all mixed with a touch of Red Sox nation.



 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.
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