Rubio unveils RI campaign leadership team

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FILE – In this Feb. 27, 2015 file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks in National Harbor, Md. When Rubio launches his Republican presidential campaign Monday, he’ll have to answer a simple question. Why now? Rubio, a rising star on Capitol Hill, is just 43 years old. He could wait another four years, even eight, […]

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, fresh off a stronger-than-expected showing in the Iowa Caucuses, unveiled his campaign’s leadership team in Rhode Island on Friday.

The Florida senator’s campaign will be chaired in Rhode Island by Gary Sasse, a veteran policy analyst and former aide to Gov. Don Carcieri, who was previously announced last year as chairman of the campaign’s Rhode Island steering committee.

Along with Sasse, the other members of Rubio’s Rhode Island leadership team are House Minority Leader Brian Newberry, state Sen. Mark Gee, state Rep. Anthony Giarrusso, former state Sen. Frank Maher, state Rep. Robert Nardolillo, state Sen. John Pagliarini Jr., and state Rep. Daniel P. Reilly.

“I’m proud to be backing Marco Rubio because he speaks with such a positive vision about the future of America,” Newberry said in a statement. “I know that as our party’s nominee, he will bring new voters into the conservative movement and will be the leader that America needs in the White House.”

Jeremy Adler, a Rubio spokesman, also confirmed that the campaign had gathered enough signatures to qualify to appear on the ballot for Rhode Island’s April 26 presidential primary.

While much uncertainty still surrounds the GOP nominating contest, Rubio is expected to compete hard in Rhode Island’s primary if he remains a leading contender, particularly since the state has historically backed establishment-friendly candidates.

Rubio joins other Republican candidates who’ve appointed top supporters in Rhode Island.

Donald Trump’s honorary Rhode Island campaign chairman is state Rep. Joseph Trillo. Jeb Bush’s Rhode Island campaign is being led by former Rhode Island Republican Party vice-chairman John Harpootian. South Kingstown resident Rob Sullivan is leading Ben Carson’s PAC locally, according to the state party.

The Rhode Island state coordinators for Ted Cruz’s campaign are Pawtucket GOP Chairman Lester Olson and North Providence resident John Donovan, while Chris Christie’s campaign has the strong support locally of Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. John Kasich is backed by former state Sen. Dawson Hodgson, among others.

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.

The next major event in the presidential race is Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.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

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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