Seth Magaziner announces run for governor, slamming ‘old-time politicians’

Katherine Gregg | Providence Journal >>

PAWTUCKET — With a school construction site as his backdrop, state Treasurer Seth Magaziner officially launched his bid for governor on Tuesday with a pledge to “do what we need to do to make our state stronger.”

Without mentioning any of his competitors for the state’s top political prize by name, including incumbent Dan McKee, Magaziner said:

“I’m running because I know the only way that we are going to rebuild Rhode Island’s economy is if we move past the cronyism and the old school politics that have been the mark at the State House for far too long.”

An advance text of his speech went farther, citing a need to weed out “the old-time politicians who lean whichever way the wind blows, and their cronies who think a job in government is the opportunity to enrich themselves and their friends.”

Who did he have in mind? Magaziner left the news conference without answering reporters’ questions, in a car with Florida license plates. 

(The subsequent explanation: “The treasurer was driven to the event by campaign staffer Elisa Ramirez in her car. She recently moved to Rhode Island to work for the campaign and is in the process of updating her vehicle registration.”)

Later in the day, in a written response to a Journal query about who he was referencing when he talked about “cronyism” and “old-school politics,” he said: 

“The stories coming out of the governor’s office in recent weeks are a reminder that Rhode Island still has work to do to end the the culture of insider politics — something Treasurer Magaziner is determined to do.”

He also chided the governor for not mandating coronavirus vaccination “for all state and school employees to help keep people safe.”

Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal

Magaziner joins term-limited Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea in the Democratic field, as well as Luis Daniel Muñoz, a medical doctor who netted 1.7% of the vote running for governor as an independent in 2018. (Muñoz “is not licensed” to practice medicine in Rhode Island, according to the state Health Department.

McKee has not yet officially announced that he is running for election as governor in 2022. He ascended from lieutenant governor automatically in March when Gina Raimondo quit mid-term for a job in Washington.

Magaziner made his case for his election as Rhode Island’s next governor this way:

“I’m running for governor because I believe the economic future of our state is hanging in the balance, and we must build a new, modern, resilient economy that gives everyone a real chance to succeed.”

His checklist: “Creating new jobs, improving our schools and transitioning to a clean-energy economy.”

Among those attending his news conference: leaders of the Ironworkers, Carpenters and Painters and Glazers unions.

Magaziner said Rhode Islanders deserve a governor “who will make decisions about the health and safety of kids in schools based on science and the advice of doctors and health experts, not the cries of the loudest voices who equate freedom with license to put other people’s children at risk.”

Telegraphing his progressive credentials, he also said: “I am running to do what I did as treasurer: defend a woman’s right to choose with every tool at my disposal, stand up to the gun lobby and support common-sense gun-safety laws.”

Without elaboration on how he plans to expand on the free community-college tuition program started by his political mentor, Raimondo, he said: “I’m running to make college more affordable and to expand job training programs, building off of the work I did in the treasurer’s office to overhaul the CollegeBoundfund into one of the highest-rated college savings programs in the country.” (He said he would unveil his plans at a later date.)

He also promised to “move Rhode Island … confidently and permanently to a clean-energy economy that will get us to net-zero emissions while creating thousands of good new jobs” without pinpointing how his plan would differ from the “Act on Climate” legislation that state lawmakers passed and McKee signed this year.

The 38-year-old son of Clinton-era health-care guru Ira Magaziner, who hails from a tony waterfront neighborhood in Bristol — and plunked $801,500 in personal loans into his first campaign — Magaziner sought to draw attention to the humbler, working-class beginnings of his grandfathers. One came from Ireland; the other from what is now Ukraine.

“Both of my grandfathers were sons of immigrants who grew up poor before serving in the Second World War. Grandpa Bob was a Marine who served in the Pacific, and Grandpa Louis was in the Army in Europe. When they got back home they were able to get good jobs — Bob as a steelworker and Louis as a bookkeeper.

“Those jobs were not glamorous, but with those jobs my grandfathers were able to buy houses, start families and put their kids through college.

“Their children, my parents, started a business here in Rhode Island and had great success,” he said of Telesis, a business consulting company his mother and father founded in Providence in the early 1980s.

(Asked about his father’s absence from Tuesday’s announcement, Magaziner said: he “is in good health but is traveling out of state for a work commitment.”)

“Every candidate makes promises about building a stronger economy. But how can you tell who will actually deliver? By looking at the record, to see who has actually done it,” he said. 

Magaziner held his announcement at the construction site of the new Henry J. Winters Elementary School in Pawtucket to draw attention to his role in promoting $1.4 billion in state-backed construction loans.

He described the Winters project as “one of 176 Rhode Island schools that are being rebuilt or transformed by the school construction program I co-chaired.”

“Not only will these school construction projects benefit over 90,000 students a year, they are also putting over 20,000 people to work in good-paying jobs.”

He also touted his role as state treasurer in “moving millions of dollars of the state’s cash to local community banks and credit unions to support their small business lending,” and distributing money from the state’s Infrastructure Bank for things like solar panels on public buildings and LED streetlights.

He has also presided over the state pension fund at a time of extraordinary growth.

As The Wall Street Journal reported last month, public pension funds made record gains in the second quarter of this year. 

In August, the Magaziner-run Treasury Department announced that the state pension fund had reached an all-time high of $10.34 billion, after gaining more than $2 billion in assets over the previous year.

Read the full article on The Providence Journal