Gov. Gina Raimondo’s veto of a bill to extend expired municipal and teacher contracts indefinitely has sparked an override campaign by teachers unions, ending whatever temporary peace she may have forged with them.
“I think that the classified ad is out: ‘Real Democrat wanted for governor of Rhode Island,”’ Robert Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, said Thursday.
Alleging that Raimondo told him face-to-face, in a private meeting, that she intended to veto the contract-extension bill because her “donors don’t like it,” Walsh said his union feels obligated to actively recruit a candidate to run against Raimondo in a 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Walsh named several up-and-coming Democrats, suggesting they may have awakened on Thursday morning to the realization they don’t have to wait until 2022 for their next big political move.
“I think there are 10,000 scenarios out there where people of ambition are now looking at timing and saying this may be their time, and I don’t think that was the case three months ago,” he said.
Raimondo’s spokesman David Ortiz responded: “This isn’t a partisan issue.”
“The governor deeply respects the important role that organized labor plays in our shared efforts to grow the economy and provide opportunity for every Rhode Islander and she firmly supports collective bargaining,” he said.
But “the governor is most urgently concerned with protecting Rhode Island’s taxpayers. Mayors, town managers and school leaders from every corner of Rhode Island — most of them Democrats — urged the governor to veto this legislation.”