Happy Saturday! Here’s another edition of my weekend column for WPRI.com — as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to tnesi@wpri.com and follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

1. Matt Brown is relentlessly on message as he makes his second bid to become Rhode Island’s governor. Appearing on this week’s Newsmakers, Brown hammered home his theme: the State House status quo is corrupt and failing, and the Brown-led slate of Rhode Island Political Cooperative candidates want to move policy sharply leftward on health care, housing and energy. “We’re running with a whole group of fantastic Rhode Islanders across the state, running for the legislature and municipal offices, to win a governing majority in this state so we can finally start to change things,” Brown said. But he wouldn’t be drawn out on cost estimates for his plans, saying only that he is confident the money is there. So long as Luis Daniel Muñoz stays in the Democratic primary, Brown won’t be the only option for left-wing voters. But the former secretary of state has a higher profile, as well as the Co-op network behind him. He’s going to need that grassroots muscle to get his message out, since his campaign had just $79,000 on hand as of March 31, far less than the “big three” of Dan McKee, Nellie Gorbea and Helena Foulkes. It’s true that one in three Democratic primary voters cast a ballot for Brown four years ago — but how many of them were motivated by support for Brown, rather than hostility toward Gina Raimondo? We should get a better sense soon: WPRI 12 and Roger Williams University will release our first 2022 poll of Rhode Island voters this Tuesday at 5 p.m., giving the state its first independent look at where all five Democratic candidates for governor stand four months before the primary.

2. Matt Brown was highly critical of Dan McKee throughout the Newsmakers interview, flaying the incumbent over everything from homelessness to ILO. At one point, Brown dropped this: “You know, we’re still six weeks out from the filing date. I would not be surprised if he does not run again.” Why? “Would somebody running again consider not showing up for a gubernatorial forum? We’ll see,” Brown said. “But he does not seem engaged, does not seem focused, does not bring any urgency.” It would be disingenuous to claim Brown is the only person floating that possibility — there was a surge of will-McKee-run chatter around the State House in the days after he temporarily spurned the RIPEC forum. But there is also plenty of evidence that McKee is serious about securing the Democratic nomination. He has a growing political team led by campaign manager Brexton Isaacs that is ramping up his political schedule, including RSVP’ing to another forum coming up on May 27. He raised $427,000 in the last quarter, his biggest three-month total ever, and is sitting on $1.1 million. And like most politicians, McKee is competitive by nature — he undoubtedly would like the history books to show he won the governor’s office in his own right.

3. Voters may start paying more attention to the 2nd Congressional District primary soon as they begin seeing TV ads for one of the candidates: Democrat Sarah Morgenthau went on the air Friday with a commercial that highlights her opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade. Her campaign is spending about $33,000 airing the spot on broadcast outlets over the next week. No word yet about when she’ll be joined on the air by rival Seth Magaziner, who picked up his 17th union endorsement this week and announced the hiring of a field director, Mo Khan. Among the other Democrats, David Segal just sent out what appears to be the first mailer of the primary, a four-page letter going to roughly 50,000 voters. Omar Bah kicked off his underdog bid at an event Thursday evening, while Joy Fox continues to stop at as many events as possible to up her visibility. (Michael Neary, the Democrat who was arrested in Ohio in March, formally dropped out Friday.) The new WPRI 12/RWU poll coming out on Tuesday will include a first look at which of the 2nd District Democrats starts out with an edge among primary voters. On the Republican side, Allan Fung dodged questions about specific abortion bills during a 12 News at 4 interview this week, while his primary opponent Bob Lancia has been quiet in recent days.

4. Don’t look now, but the Rhode Island Republican Party is starting to flesh out a full slate of candidates for the 2022 election. Allan Fung is getting national buzz in the 2nd Congressional District. Gubernatorial candidate Ashley Kalus is already closing in on $500,000 in advertising six months out (though she gained a primary challenger this week in Jonathan Riccitelli). Jeann Lugo has been actively campaigning for lieutenant governor, and Chas Calenda has been doing the same in the race for attorney general. James Lathrop, North Kingstown’s finance director, announced this week he will seek the treasurer’s job — making him currently the only candidate other than Democrat James Diossa, as the wait continues for Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor to decide whether he’s jumping in.

5. State revenue is now on track to beat projections by $580 million this year and next.

6. The fallout from Target 12’s investigation of state Rep. Carlos Tobon continued this week, with State House lawyer John Manni withdrawing as Tobon’s attorney (following an edict from Speaker Shekarchi) and Tobon quietly updating his voter registration to acknowledge he lives at a different address from the one he’s always used. Tobon was a no-show at the House all week, absent for the roll call on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; he was also unavailable for comment when contacted by The Valley Breeze. He is already facing at least one opponent in House District 58, Cherie Cruz; she registered to vote in Pawtucket last Saturday, according to the secretary of state’s office, but said in a news release she grew up in the city. Another prominent figure being named as a potential candidate for District 58 is Maribel Echeverry McLaughlin, president of the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee. Asked Friday about a potential run, she told me, “I am committed to continue my service to the city of Pawtucket and state of Rhode Island and am open-minded to any opportunities that would further my work.”

7. The Rhode Island Ethics Commission has an unusual item on its agenda for executive session this Tuesday: “Notification of initiation of Preliminary Investigation No. 2022-1.” Jason Gramitt, the commission’s executive director, said the language indicates that he and his staff are looking into a Rhode Island official proactively — as opposed to waiting for someone to file a complaint against the person — because they “possess information that establishes a reasonable basis to believe that a person may have violated the provisions of the Code of Ethics.” Gramitt must report back to the commission within 60 days on whether there is reason to open a formal complaint. No word on the subject of the preliminary investigation, but Gramitt said the commission took a similar step years ago based on revelations about then-Sen. John Celona, who eventually pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.

8. Remember when Tufts Health Plan lost out on a $7 billion state Medicaid contract by submitting its bid two minutes late? It turns out Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island messed up its bid, too, by submitting a blank CD — and now the state has scrapped the entire massive procurement.

9. Here’s a dispatch from my Target 12 colleague Eli Sherman: “While the FBI probe of the controversial ILO contract awarded by Governor McKee’s administration last year has become a hot topic across the political spectrum, the investigation has overshadowed a couple bills making their way through the General Assembly that aim to reform parts of the state’s procurement policies. Sen. Lou DiPalma and Rep. Patricia Serpa — who head their chambers’ respective oversight panels — have proposed identical legislation stemming from the ILO scandal, and the bills cleared the Senate this week. The changes are wonky, but essentially the legislation could help prevent an ILO-like contract from getting approval in the future. One of the bills would prohibit changing up the rules of the procurement midway through the process. The other strengthens language surrounding conflicts of interest. DiPalma, an outspoken critic of the ILO contract and McKee’s handling of the matter, cited the ‘recent controversial state contracts and purchases’ as the reason why these laws are necessary. ‘The public deserves transparency and assurances that every state contract or purchase agreement is made with the sole best interests of Rhode Island residents in mind,’ he said. The Senate bills now move to the House, where Serpa’s legislation is currently before the House State Government and Elections Committee.”

10. Turns out the LLC that owns the Superman building hasn’t been in “good standing” to do business in Rhode Island for five years.

11. Here’s a dispatch from my Target 12 colleague Steph Machado: “Rhode Island could legalize recreational cannabis before the end of May. Committees in both the House and Senate on Friday evening scheduled votes for next week on a yet-to-be-seen amended version of the bill introduced back in March, which itself was a compromise between leaders of the two chambers. The scheduling of a vote signifies an agreement has been struck on key issues, including the structure of the proposed Cannabis Control Commission, as well as the process for expunging past marijuana convictions, which advocates have argued should be automatic. A Senate spokesperson said House and Senate leaders agreed on the changes and worked with Governor McKee’s office, but stopped short of saying they had reached consensus with the governor. (McKee supports legalization but had raised objections to the structure of the Cannabis Control Commission, arguing the proposed appointment process violates separation of powers.) The amended bill is expected to be released early next week in time for committee votes on Wednesday, with full votes by both chambers the following week. As currently written, the bill would legalize possession of marijuana right away, but cannabis sales would not be allowed until October.”

12. David Cicilline will soon be able to add another title to his résumé: published author. The 1st District congressman has inked a deal with Twelve Books to write a memoir about his time on Capitol Hill entitled “House on Fire: Fighting for Democracy in the Age of Political Arson.” It’s scheduled to be released Aug. 30. (And no, Cicilline didn’t get an advance — those are barred under House ethics rules.)

13. Some Friday night news: Governor McKee has nominated former state Rep. David Caprio to replace outgoing R.I. Council on Postsecondary Education Chairman Tim DelGiudice. Caprio was last in the news in 2014, when he stepped down as chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party over a scandal involving a state contract for a beach concession stand; it eventually led to an ethics fine for then-Rep. Peter Palumbo. Asked whether that history was considered in selecting Caprio, a McKee spokesperson said, “David is a lifelong Rhode Islander who will bring years of professional and philanthropic experience to this board. We look forward to his expertise as he furthers the board’s mission to shape the course of public education in Rhode Island.”

14. Tower developer Jason Fane has gotten yet another extension from the 195 Commission.

15. The announcement by Care New England CEO James Fanale that he plans to retire early next year makes this an even more consequential moment for the future of Rhode Island health care. The Lifespan-CNE merger is dead. CNE still needs a new suitor. The state has an unprecedented amount of money on hand. Voters are about to choose the next governor. And since Lifespan CEO Tim Babineau already announced his exit, both of Rhode Island’s largest hospital groups will now be choosing new leaders to steer them through the balance of the 2020s.

16. Uh oh: Moody’s thinks home prices in the Providence area are overvalued by 22%.

17. May is Mental Health Month, so let Brown’s Jackie Nesi (my cousin!) help you find a therapist.

18. Three links for the musically minded … CBS Sunday Morning’s John Dickerson visits the Bob Dylan Center in TulsaTed Widmer in The New Yorker on lost Beatles bandmate Stuart SutcliffeNate Chinen reveals the discovery of an unreleased 1958 Ella Fitzgerald concert.

19. This week on Newsmakers — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown. Watch Sunday at 5:30 a.m. on WPRI 12 or 10 a.m. on Fox Providence, or listen on the radio Sundays at 6 p.m. on WPRO. You can also subscribe to Newsmakers as a podcast on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts). See you back here next Saturday.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook