2014-03-21 / Opinion


Election Season is Upon Us

A t the state level, things are already beginning to heat up in the race for governor, as a trio of Democrats and a pair of Republican candidates vie for their respective party nominations.

Meanwhile, further down the ballot, primaries are also taking shape in the race for Secretary of State, Lt. Governor, and General Treasurer. The race for Attorney General may also surprise as a competitive contest.

"Horse race" political watchers have been following the daily political give-and-take as if it were a sport.

This past week, chatter around the governor's race seemed to focus mainly on a lost Prius and one candidate's affinity for sharing recipes over social media. Yes, two candidates announced their plans to help spur the state's economy, but that seemed secondary to the narrative.

Let there be no mistake: there are real issues at stake this November, and it's imperative that we remain focused on substance.

Newport should be especially concerned. If Rhode Island's economy continues to struggle, it won't be long before Newporters are once again faced with the prospect of expanded gambling.

As if some kind of panacea, the conversation always seems to go back to the same place: in order to support our budgetary needs, new revenue needs to be created. And casino gaming seems like the lazy man's answer to everything.

It is true that other states across the country with similar economies and demographics have been succeeding in these times.

Louisiana, driven by a new energy boom, is leveraging its place on the Gulf with aggressive tax reform to lure businesses that are now creating thousands of new, highpaying jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors.

A state once perceived as a backwater of corruption and prohibitively insular is today seen as open for business. The small state devastated by Hurricane Katrina and beset by a declining population for years is now growing.

They've done this by doing what seems like a novel idea to too many Rhode Island leaders: they've looked outside their borders.

Rhode Island has been stuck in its own way for far, far too long.

This year, let's pay closer attention to the meat of the campaign, rather than the sizzle.

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