Sanders’ senior adviser was surprised by candidate’s success

Tad Devine_346519

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Tad Devine is one of the bigger players behind the scenes of national politics, most recently as a senior adviser for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

But Devine got his start here in Rhode Island, growing up in South Providence and becoming a basketball star at LaSalle Academy. He’s worked for a number of local politicians, including U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, former Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino.

Devine has seen a lot in the decades he’s worked in politics, but Sanders’ success in this year’s Democratic presidential primary surprised even him.

“I didn’t think he would take off the way he did, but I didn’t think he was a protest candidacy either,” Devine said during the latest episode of Newsmakers.

Devine previously worked on the presidential campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry, but he has also remained involved in Rhode Island politics. In 2014, he worked on the campaigns of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.

Devine said he believes Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo’s mediocre poll numbers will turn around.

“I think the governor – and this is from someone who worked for an opponent – is doing an excellent job because she is doing what you need to do,” he explained. “I encouraged Governor Chafee to do this and wish he had done it more, which is to focus on the economy relentlessly, to talk about it all the time.”

Raimondo needs to be accessible in such a small state, according to Devine, who also thinks that message will start to resonate with voters as the governor prepares for her expected 2018 re-election bid.

Hear more from Tad Devine in this week’s episode of Newsmakers Saturday at 5:30 a.m. on Fox Providence, Sunday at 5:30 a.m. on WPRI 12, Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence, Sunday at 7 p.m. on myRITV, or right now on

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