Capitol Building

Inside Politics -- Your guide to National and State Politics

Darrell West

Darrell West


Heard on
College Hill

Funding Our
Public Officials

Brown Policy Reports

Brown Polls

Financial Disclosure


RI Factbook


Contact Us

Site Search

Help Support this Site

Handicapping York versus Carcieri for Governor (posted September 11, 2002)

With Rhode Islanders facing a gubernatorial general election featuring Democrat Myrth York and Republican Don Carcieri, it is time to handicap the race. Each candidate brings money and an apparent willingness to contribute personal funds to the campaign. For her primary, York lent her campaign $2.2 million, while Carcieri self-funded his contest to the tune of over $1 million. If this continues during the fall, each nominee will have the ability to get the campaign message out to voters. This will bring joy to the hearts of local television stations desiring a share of ad dollars.

On the crucial dimension of campaign themes, look for York to run a race emphasizing traditional Democratic values. She will attempt to portray Carcieri as a Republican businessman who does not share the fundamental values of working people in the state. Because he campaigned as an outsider and political novice, York will question whether he is capable of dealing with the urgent issues facing the Ocean State. Is he up to the job of governor?

There are clear differences between the candidates on the abortion issue. York is pro-choice, while Carcieri is pro-life. Both have criticized the General Assembly, but York has stopped short of calling for Speaker John Harwood's resignation. Carcieri attended a press conference that called for Harwood's resignation.

For his part, Carcieri will see if he can tie York to the entrenched Democratic party and his general pitch that insiders have controlled the state and blocked meaningful change. The fact that she won without many union endorsements or support by party leaders, however, makes it difficult for Carcieri to portray her as an insider controlled by special interest groups.

A better tack for him, given his fiscal conservatism and concern regarding overspending by the General Assembly, will be to raise the "tax and spend" issue often used by national Republicans against liberal Democrats. It has been a common strategy for Republicans to wave the "L" word against Democrats and question their sense of fiscal responsibility. Can Rhode Island afford York?

Since Rhode Island leans in the Democratic direction, York is the front-runner for the fall general election. She has put together a very strong staff and broadcast the best ads of the primary season. Her media advisor, Mandy Grunwald, helped elect Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Senate. York stayed on message at various points during the race. Since Carcieri is less well-known than York, look for her to criticize him soon after the primary in an effort to raise his negatives and create doubts about him. Building on his primary strategy, he almost certainly will respond in a forceful way. It will be a general election that displays feistiness on the part of both candidates.
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services