Jeb Bush unveils RI campaign leadership team

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, who is waging an uphill battle to win his party’s nomination, unveiled his campaign’s leadership team in Rhode Island on Friday.

The former Florida governor’s state campaign chairman is former Gov. Lincoln Almond, who served as the state’s U.S. attorney under Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush.

Along with Almond, the other members of Bush’s Rhode Island leadership team are Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, former Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman John Holmes and Vice-Chairman John Harpootian, veteran GOP fundraiser Tony Bucci, and Providence Equity Partners senior managing director Glenn Creamer.

“I served as governor at the same time as Jeb, and I can tell you there was no Republican governor in the country at that time that had more innovative ideas that truly changed his or her state than Jeb did,” Almond said in a statement. “We marveled at what Jeb was doing in Florida, and I greatly respected his skills as a policy innovator.”

No polling has been conducted in Rhode Island to test voters’ preferences ahead of the state’s April 26 presidential primary, but the state has been a mixed bag in the past for the Bush family, which has ties to neighboring Connecticut. The elder Bush won Rhode Island’s presidential primary in 1988 and 1992, but in 2000 George W. Bush suffered a landslide defeat to John McCain here.

With Friday’s announcement, Bush joins other GOP candidates who’ve announced top supporters in Rhode Island.

Donald Trump’s honorary Rhode Island campaign chairman is state Rep. Joseph Trillo. Fellow Floridian Marco Rubio’s leadership team is led by veteran policymaker Gary Sasse. The state coordinators for Ted Cruz’s campaign are Pawtucket GOP Chairman Lester Olson and North Providence resident John Donovan.

Among other candidates, South Kingstown resident Rob Sullivan is leading Ben Carson’s PAC locally, according to the state party. John Kasich is backed by former state Sen. Dawson Hodgson among others. And Chris Christie’s campaign had the strong support of Cranston Mayor Allan Fung before he dropped out.

On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have strong networks of support in the state, which has backed the Clintons repeatedly in past elections. But neither campaign has formally announced Rhode Island campaign leadership so far.Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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