EAST PROVIDENCE — Former US representative Patrick Kennedy stumped for gubernatorial hopeful Angel Taveras Tuesday and took a jab at one his opponents, saying Rhode Island needs a governor with experience, not just a fresh face.
At a senior citizen complex in East Providence, Kennedy was referring — though not by name — to fellow Democratic candidate Clay Pell, who has been campaigning as an outsider with a fresh perspective.
Kennedy, who represented Rhode Island in Washington for 16 years but now lives in New Jersey, noted he had already served in the Legislature and in Congress by the time he was 32 — Pell’s age. He called serving as governor an ‘‘awesome responsibility.’’
Pell has worked as a Coast Guard prosecutor, National Security Council staffer, and, briefly, deputy assistant secretary in the US Department of Education.
Campaign manager Devin Driscoll said Pell intends to remain focused on issues. ‘‘Our grass-roots campaign is gaining momentum for one reason: Clay’s the candidate talking about issues,’’ he said in an e-mail. ‘‘He has a real plan, filled with new ideas, and a fresh perspective for tackling our state’s long-standing challenges.’’
Taveras, the mayor of Providence, and Pell are facing state Treasurer Gina Raimondo in the Sept. 9 primary.
Raimondo has also held herself up as a candidate with experience, focusing on her 2011 overhaul of the state’s pension system. She said the state has been lacking in leadership.
Pell is believed to have picked up ground — with help from $1.4 million in TV ads— after being behind in the last publicly released poll. His campaign is largely self-financed.
Taveras’s most recent TV spot, the first to go after Pell, called him inexperienced.
Kennedy highlighted the mayor’s personal story of attending both Head Start and Harvard. ‘‘He has not had an easy road in his life,’’ Kennedy said. ‘‘He is not someone who’s ever had anything handed to him.’’ Kennedy also cited the mayor’s work shoring up the city’s shaky finances.
Mayor Allan Fung of Cranston and businessman Ken Block are running in the GOP primary.