EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy stumped for gubernatorial hopeful Angel Taveras on Tuesday and took a jab at one his opponents, saying Rhode Island needs a governor with political experience, not just a fresh face.
Addressing voters 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 that he had already served in the state 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 prosecutor in the U.S. Coast Guard, a National Security Council staffer and, briefly, a deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education.
Campaign manager Devin Driscoll said Pell intends to continue to remain focused on the issues.
“Our grassroots campaign is gaining momentum for one reason: Clay’s the candidate talking about issues,” Driscoll said in an email. “He has a real plan, filled with new ideas, and a fresh perspective for tackling our state’s long-standing challenges.”
Taveras 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 public pension system. She says the state has been sorely lacking in leadership and that she’s the only candidate with a track record showing she’ll get the job done.
The Democratic campaign has entered the final month with Pell believed to have picked up ground - with the help of $1.4 million in TV ads- after being well behind in the last publicly released poll. Pell’s campaign is largely self-financed.
Taveras’ most recent TV spot, the first of the campaign to go after Pell, accused him of being “inexperienced and out of touch.”
In formally introducing Taveras to a group of seniors Tuesday at the event at Rumford Towers, Kennedy highlighted his personal story of going through the Head Start program all the way to Harvard. The mayor’s mother, whom Taveras often talks about on the campaign, was in the audience.
“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, which at one point had Providence on the brink of municipal bankruptcy.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and businessman Ken Block are running in the GOP primary.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.