Sept. 25, 2021

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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 @tednesi on Twitter.

1. The Democratic field for governor is getting crowded, and while few voters are paying close attention, the “invisible primary” is well under way — so what happens now matters. Matt Brown’s official announcement puts at least five Democrats in the mix — Brown, Dan McKeeSeth MagazinerNellie Gorbea and Luis Daniel Muñoz — with a sixth, Helena Foulkes, actively considering a run as well. Four of those candidates have won statewide before, adding to their credibility. Brown is a bit of a wild card because his ambition is so much larger than the others: he wants to lead a slate of candidates that ejects the entire State House political establishment from power. He’s also the most likely to push the conversation leftward, with platform planks like a $19 minimum wage and 100% clean power by 2028. However, Brown’s decision to target stalwart liberal legislators like Dawn Euer triggered an immediate backlash from other progressives; Sam Howard ably analyzes the split on the left here. Two key questions for Brown: how much of Rhode Island’s Democratic primary electorate is open to a full-throated left-wing message, and how much of the 34% he got in 2018 was pro-Brown rather than anti-Raimondo? Meanwhile, the fractured Democratic field and President Biden’sstruggles could give Republicans a serious opportunity to recapture the governor’s office for the first time in 12 years — but only if they field a compelling candidate. The Republican being mentioned most frequently is House Minority Leader Blake Filippi, who is under pressure to enter the race. Will he do it? “That really is undecided at this point,” the 41-year-old Block Islander told me. He expects to make a decision this fall.

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