Scott MacKay

Political Analyst

With a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Vermont and a wealth of knowledge of local politics, it was a given that Scott MacKay would become a commentator for Rhode Island Public Radio's Political Roundtable.

As a former political reporter for The Providence Journal, MacKay has spent more than thirty years documenting the ins and outs of politics in Rhode Island and New England. MacKay is married to Dr. Staci Fisher, an infectious diseases specialist.

Follow Scott on Twitter: @ScotMackRI

Ways to Connect

With readership dropping and advertising revenues declining, the Providence Journal, the state’s largest newspaper, is seeking to shed more workers. The Projo  is offering buyouts to veteran employees. If a sufficient number of employees do not take the buyouts, layoffs are likely, says John Hill, president of the Providence Newspaper Guild, the union representing many employees.

There is only one Rhode Island primary election tomorrow (Tuesday Sept. 11) that is being watched from Woonsocket to Washington, D.C.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay brings you the first district Democratic donnybrook.

The 1st District U.S. House primary joust between Democratic David Cicilline and Anthony Gemma has been in-your-face nasty, as rough as it gets in a little state known for big political fights.

It is rare that 5th graders are featured in the lead of the letters section of a major political media outlet. But that is what happened in the most recent issue of the Nation, that liberal publication of politcs and arts.

Brendan Doherty, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in the 1st District, issued a nice uplifting Labor Day statement but somebody on his communications staff ought to have done a better job vetting it. The former RI state police superintendent stated: “The United States Constitution asserts one of our guiding principles that still rings true. That is, that we as people, are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, namely life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’’

Today RIPR kicks another in our `One Square Mile’ reports on a Rhode Island community. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay takes a break from the political circuit to take us to the Point Judith ferry dock.

Block Island‘ is just nine miles from the Rhode Island mainland but a world away. Home in January to just 1,000 hardy souls, in summer the pork-chop shaped island’s population bulges to ten times that.

In 30 years in Rhode Island politics, Lincoln Chafee has been elected to every office from Warwick city council, to U.S. Senate and governor. He never has been a Democrat. Yet now independent  Governor Chafee will have the biggest speaking role any Rhode Island political figure has had at any Democratic National Convention since 1964, when Sen. John Pastore was the keynote convention speaker.

Dave Layman, a former television news anchor and public relations consultant, is taking over as communications director for Republican Brendan Doherty’s campaign for U.S. Representative in the 1st District.

Layman, 67, of North Kingstown, has recently been a corporate communications consultant and a fixture as a panelist of  the local PBS Channel 36 public affairs program, `A Lively Experiment.’

Take your pick: Last night’s televised WPRI debate between 1st Congressional District Democratic candidates, U.S. Rep.  David Cicilline and challenger Anthony Gemma was A) a reality TeeVee show disguised as political dialogue, B) a Saturday Night Live parody of a congressional debate or C) both.

We will choose C, but only because the scene, as watched on television, contained elements of farce and the repellent nastiness that too often infects political theater these days.

One of our favorite ProJo reporters is Washington correspondent John Mulligan, who is covering the Republican National convention in Tampa and doing his usual fine job on the national political beat.

But I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at Johnny’s piece today on Page One of the Projo. The article deals with the latest Republican anti-Obama trope: That if you built a business, you don’t deserve credit because the government helped.

Joseph Lazzerini, who says he was Anthony Gemma’s field director and a paid staffer until he quit August 8, says in a statement released moments ago that he left the campaign because of a homophobic atmosphere at the Gemma campaign office.

Lazzerini, formerly of Providence, says he now lives in South Attleboro.

His statement reads:

“I’ve been following the unfortunate events that unfolded today between the Gemma campaign and the Democratic Party of Rhode Island. As a former Gemma campaign staffer, I felt it was important to issue the following statement:’’

Incumbent Democratic Congressman David Cicilline holds a double-digit lead over his primary opponent, businessman Anthony Gemma, according to a WPRI-Channel 12 public opinion survey released tonight.

The survey of 302 registered voters in the First Congressional District shows Cicilline with 43 percent, Gemma at 31 percent, about 20 percent undecided and 4 percent supporting perennial candidate Christopher Young. A similar Channel 12 poll in May gave Cicilline a 4 point lead over Gemma.

UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that Gemma has dismissed Sionni from the campaign. A Gemma spokesman called Sionni’s Twitter comments “inappropriate” and said Sionni, who was not paid, would no longer be working on Gemma’s campaign.

Former 1st District Rep. Patrick Kennedy will campaign with Congressman David Cicilline in the run up to the Sept. 11th Democratic primary for U.S. House in the 1st District.

Kennedy will join Cicilline on the campaign circuit the week of Sept. 9th.  “I’ve known David Cicilline for years and I am incredibly proud of the work that he has already done since we sent him to serve in Congress,’’ Kennedy said in a statement. “No one has been working harder than David to get our state back on the right track and put Rhode Islanders back to work.

Do Rhode Islanders have an unquenchable thirst for campaign nuttiness? From the reaction of   both mainstream media and talk show wacko world to Anthony Gemma’s latest skewed salvo, one might think so.

The talk show babblers are in full throat. The ProJo’s front page Thursday morning ran Gemma’s nonsense as if WW III was imminent. Practically the entire city room was assigned a piece of the story. In the end, the article did very little to advance the issue.

Readers knew no more about the Gemma allegations Thursday morning than they did Wednesday afternoon.

Democratic Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma says there is widespread voter fraud in Providence. RIPR’s Scott MacKay reminds us that such allegations aren’t new in Rhode Island.

Charges of voter suppression, chicanery and outright bribery are as Rhode Island as frozen lemonade, quahogs and Narragansett Bay.

Our state’s long and florid political history is salted with jousts over who should be allowed to vote, whose votes count the most and campaign tactics straight from the underside of   the Tammany-Hall genre of electioneering.

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