Analysis of Clay Pell’s entry into RI Governor’s race

by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

First there was Angel Taveras, as a Democrat for Governor; then there was Gina Raimondo; and now, from all indications Clay Pell will also jump in the race next Tuesday.

So instead of a candidate needing 51 percent to win a primary; all they need to win now is 34 percent in a three–way field.

Analysts say Pell will have an impact.

“Particularly in a close race between Raimondo and Angel Taveras, he really could – even if he doesn't win – he could come in as a spoiler. And it's anybody's game,” said Rhode Island College Political Communication Professor Valerie Endress.

Current Governor Lincoln Chafee won in a crowded field four years ago, with just 36 percent of the vote.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, “The famous Pell name does come with pluses and minuses. Mark older voters may fondly remember the late Senator Claiborne Pell. On the other hand he left office 17 years ago, and many younger voters may not hold those same affections.”

Mayor Taveras has a strong base in the minority community, and Gina Raimondo has big support among women.

At age 32 – and with celebrity wife Michelle Kwon – Clay Pell may have a different niche.

“With younger voters, I think his age is going to be more of a factor. That fact that he seems to be young and contemporary in terms of viewpoint, and involved with the Obama administration, I think that is more of the selling point with him that way,” said Political Communication Professor Kay Israel of Rhode Island College.

Many analysts say the race for governor is simply a toss–up for now.