Warning: If you hung out at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick for three or more days last week, you’re either suffering from an unhealthy addiction to Rhode Island politics, or you should seek a pay raise from whatever company forced you to attend that many fundraisers in one week.
Indeed, Warwick was the center of the political universe for the final full week of January, as Governor Dan McKee, House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi, and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio each kicked off fund-raising season with events in the same location.
The jealousy-ridden folks at the Marriott on Orms Street declined to comment, except to argue that they offer comfier couches in their lobby. (Note: Politicians have reported spending $305,000 at Crown Plaza hotels since 2010, compared to just $111,000 at Marriott properties.)
The general consensus was that Shekarchi, who reported $1.7 million in his campaign account in early December after blowout wins in his Democratic primary and general election, had the best turnout, followed by Ruggerio, and then McKee.
Ruggerio and McKee were more in need of a cash infusion, as both men had slightly more difficult campaigns last year. The Senate president reported $35,000 in his campaign account at the end of 2022, and McKee was down to $18,000 in early December.
Another round of campaign finance reports are due to be filed tomorrow, but the results of their Crowne Plaza fundraisers won’t be reported until the end of April.
While political insiders were buzzing about McKee’s modest turnout, those close to the governor were quick to point out that he held a series of smaller fundraisers leading up to his big event. Plus, it kind of snowed last Monday.
Still, it’s clear that McKee is already beginning to think about seeking reelection in 2026. That’s no surprise, since he regularly talks about his Rhode Island 2030 plan, which would be his final year in office if he wins.
Shekarchi and Ruggerio have signaled they both intend to seek reelection in two years, and both men have expressed confidence that the results of last year’s elections (along with a lack of opposition within their respective chambers) are a sign they can hold on to their leadership positions.
The politicians will continue to show the Crowne Plaza love this week, as House Majority Leader Chris Blazejewski (Tuesday) and Senate Majority Leader Ryan Pearson (Thursday) have fundraisers on the books.
This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.
Dan McGowan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.