PROVIDENCE, R.I., — Former Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown and State Senator Cynthia Mendes (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) announcing their campaign for Governor and Lieutenant Governor makes one thing clear: Progressive Democrats are taking Rhode Island’s 2022 election cycle by storm.
Brown, who had previously served as Secretary of State from 2003 to 2007, is a co-founder of Rhode Island’s Political Cooperative. This progressive political organization was founded in 2020 and saw a wide sum of candidates they recruited win a number of State Representative and State Senate seats.
One of their most notable wins in particular was Mendes winning over then-Senator William Conley Jr. for District 18. Conley, who was the Senate Finance Chair at the time, was seen as part of what the RI Political Cooperative characterizes as the influential Democratic establishment.
In the 2022 election cycle, Brown and Mendes are leading the ticket for a movement that will include 50 candidates seeking offices in both local and state government. This announcement has caught the attention of the Rhode Island Democratic Party’s Senior Advisor, Kate Coyne McCoy. McCoy stated, “Two years ago, the voters of RI had the chance to cast a ballot for Matt Brown for Governor- the voters loudly, clearly, voted no. It was not close.”
McCoy continued, “They said no to his record of lies, ethical lapses and his trail of broken promises. Mr. Brown surfaces during election cycles- in a vain attempt to get himself elected. Otherwise, he is nowhere to be found. The RIDP will continue to work to elect Democrats who fight for RI families year in and year out- Democrats who embrace RI values.”
In addition to the number of candidates that also include incumbents from 2020, the influence these candidates and elected officials will have on key policies is already shaping narratives in this election cycle.
Some of the key pieces in the organization’s platform include:
Affordable housing for all.
Healthcare for all.
Quality education for all.
Green New Deal for all.
Fair economy for all.
Equal justice for all.
Pandemic protection for all.
Democracy for all.
Each of the platform’s key pieces have a description of how they would achieve these goals on the organization website. However, the question of which specific taxes will go up to afford these pieces of legislation is unknown. What the legislation would cost Rhode Islanders has also yet to be revealed by the organization.
Aside from the Gubernatorial election, this organization could end up playing a role in municipal elections like next year’s Providence’s Mayoral election. In that case, whoever wins the Democratic primary will most likely become Mayor. This would present the organization with an opportunity to either field a candidate or support whoever aligns the most with their views.
There are other elected officials and candidates who are running for Governor and Mayor of Providence that also lean further to the left like this organization. This creates a crossroads for those who are on the more progressive side of the Democratic party. An anti-Moderate Democratic vote splitting multiple ways might end up helping those same Moderate Democrats, like incumbent Governor Dan McKee- but it might backfire.
Four challengers are now primarying McKee. This could see him winning the primary with a plurality of around 30-35%. As for General Assembly races, the redistricting process might deter plans for some, but could see more public pressure from progressives to ensure fairer lines being drawn for legislative districts.
This announcement from Brown and Mendes caught some by surprise. With there being over a year to campaign, it is a long time for things to change in this election cycle. A surprise could come in the form of upsets for either the R.I. Political Cooperative or another year of upsets for their opponents.