It’s Crowne Plaza Month for Rhode Island Democrats
Warning: If you spent three or more days at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick last week, you are either suffering from an unhealthy addiction to Rhode Island politics, or you should request a raise from the company that forced you to do so many attend fundraisers in a week.
Indeed, as Governor for the last full week of January, Warwick was the center of the political universe Dan McKee, speaker Joseph Shekarchi, and Senate President Dominik Ruggerio each kicked off the fundraising season with events at the same location.
The jealous folks at the Marriott on Orms Street declined to comment except to argue they offer more comfortable sofas 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 tally in early December after overwhelming victories in his Democratic primary and general election, had the best turnout, followed by Ruggerio and then McKee.
Ruggerio and McKee needed more of a cash injection as both men had slightly tougher 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 by early December.
Another round of campaign financial reports are scheduled to be filed tomorrow, but the results of their Crowne Plaza fundraisers will not be reported until late April.
While political insiders gushed about McKee’s modest turnout, those close to the governor were quick to point out that he had held a series of smaller fundraisers ahead of his big event. Also, it snowed last Monday.
Still, it’s clear that McKee is already considering re-election in 2026. No wonder, since he regularly speaks about his Rhode Island 2030 plan, which if he wins would be his last year in office.
Shekarchi and Ruggerio have signaled that they both intend to be re-elected in two years, and both men have expressed confidence that the results of last year’s elections (along with a lack of opposition in their respective chambers) are a sign of that that they can hold on to their leadership positions.
Politicians will show their love to Crowne Plaza again 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, which also includes information on local events, data on the state’s coronavirus and more. If you would like to receive it by email from Monday to Friday, You can sign up here.
Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.