Mr. Smith Goes to Providence?

Riordan Smith has filed papers as the first official candidate for the Governor’s race in 2010. The ProJo and Ian Donnis at WRNI have more info. Smith was also all over the radio yesterday and today explaining his personal background (small-business owner, married with 3 kids, lives in East Greenwich, ran the Iron Man) and, to a much vaguer extent, his political.

Smith said that fixing the state’s economy and budget woes will mean cutting spending and making the state’s tax structure more competitive. He said that includes cutting taxes on the wealthy, if Rhode Island is taxing more than other states.
He did not offer specifics on how the state could cut spending when it faces massive budget deficits, saying he was only launching his campaign and would offer details in the coming weeks and months. But he did say that Rhode Island spends more per-capita than other New England states on areas such as education and health and human services.
“We have enough money,” he said. “It’s a question of how we spend it.”

That’s a broad view, to be sure. We also know he donated to David Cicilline and he told Dan Yorke he voted for Lincoln Chafee (over Steve Laffey) in the 2006 GOP Senatorial primary. His reason was that he thought Chafee was more electable. Well, there’s probably more to it than that. Like Chafee, Smith is pro-choice and, reading between the lines, it seems Smith had problems with aspects of social conservatism in general. He didn’t come out and say so, but he did disaffiliate to become an independent in 2006, explaining that he did so because of the direction the national GOP was taking. (That’s generally code for, “I didn’t like Bush, especially his social politics”).
My impression is that, while Smith truly seems to be just getting his act together, he may be only a shade or two away from Frank Caprio on the ideological spectrum. If that turns out to be true, he won’t offer a compelling option to just giving the state’s Democratic Party the whole shebang in 2010, which would at least remove the convenient scapegoating of “insert-powerless-GOP-governor’s-name-here” to which we’ve become accustomed.

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