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Blue Model Blues
Rhode Island's Blue Unions Turn Red

Rhode Island’s race for governor has an unusual twist: instead of lining up behind Democrat candidate Gina Raimondo, a large number of union voters are going all in for Alan Fung, her Republican opponent. Raimondo is the former State Treasurer who in 2011 pushed through a host of pension reforms that outraged unions, and now the unions want to punish him and send a message to Democrat pols in other states who might be eyeing similar measures. We’ll have to wait until next week to see whether Raimondo will get the message. The most recent poll by Brown University has him and his opponent Fung suggest that the slender lead Raimondo has enjoyed up to now has evaporated into a tie.

Raimondo is not the only Democrat to be facing trouble because of defections within the ranks of traditional blue voters. There’s also trouble in California over pension reform, reports the WSJ:

In San Jose, Calif., a requirement that public employees contribute more toward their retirement benefits, among other changes, has split two Democrats vying to become the city’s next mayor.

Silicon Valley business groups are backing city Councilman Sam Liccardo, who supported the changes voters approved in 2012 and said curbing skyrocketing pension costs ensures that the city can pay for services like police. Unions are throwing their weight behind Dave Cortese, a county supervisor who said the pension changes have caused a 35% drop in police staffing and that he would settle a lawsuit brought against the reform measures by city employee groups.

This is what the slow-motion crackup of the blue model looks like. Pension reform is one “fault line” in the Democratic Party, just as education has become another, leading, for instance, to a fierce battle in the normally quiet race for California’s schools superintendent. As pension costs continue to climb, we can expect to see more fissuring—and not just in California—as Democrats find themselves torn between the producers of government services, the public-sector unions, and the consumers of those services.

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  • Brett Champion

    Uh, Raimondo is a she, not a he.

    • Pete

      Stop nitpicking. It was a typo for goodness sake.

      • Brett Champion

        A typo is a one-time error. They did it four times. They used “him” twice and “his” twice. Though they have since corrected the first “his” to “her.”

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Immigration is also a fault line in the Blue Model, as Labor Gangs realize that immigration as well as illegal immigration increases the supply of labor, and thereby reduces the value of wages hence falling wages, and leaves many Americans without a job at all. With over 1 million new legal immigrants every year, and an unknown number (likely 1 million or more) of illegal immigrants each year, Americans have faced a decline in the number of jobs and falling wages for decades. This destruction of the middle class has been tolerated by the Labor Gangs up until now, but 6 years into Great Depression 2.0 has now become intolerable.


    I might trust your reporting more if you had the correct gender of the person you’re discussing. Pretty embarrassing.

    • Corlyss

      Probably a result of editing on the fly (the article, not the sex).

  • Mark Michael

    I just looked her up on Wikipedia. Impressive education. Valadictorian of her HS class. Economics degree from Harvard. Rhodes Scholar at Oxford earning a Ph.D. in sociology. Returned to the U.S. and earned a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1998. Married Andrew Moffitt in 2001. They have 2 children. Link:

    What little I read there’s an issue with how risky the investments are that the state workers pension fund has. Raimondo tried to beef up the return as well as get the government to put more money in each year. She lowered the expected annual rate of return to 7.5% from 8.5% in 2011. “Rhode Island Retirement Security Act (RIRSA)” was passed Nov. 17, 2012 & signed by Gov. Lincoln Chaffee. It had bipartisan support; 60% of Rhode Islanders supported it. There was opposition saying it gave too many fees to investment bankers who ran the funds.

  • FriendlyGoat

    A Republican governor may very well protect the interests of unionized police while hosing all the other union people. Unfortunately, this creates very ugly, arrogant, obnoxious cops. We’re “public safety”. We’re “more important”. We’re “untouchable”. Bad news.

    • C.J.Murphy

      You are absolutely right about the atmosphere this creates. Read about the Cranston Parking Ticket Scandal. It will make you shudder.

  • Skeptic

    For many years union voters blindly pulled the master lever and voted Blue as their chosen party doled out fiscally impossible benefits. The politicians were happy to take the votes while criminally neglecting their responsibilities to both the taxpayer and the pensioner by not fully funding the pension funds. When crunch time came, members of this political bloc (read, Gina Raimondo) did not hesitate to throw their long-time supporters under the bus by massively reducing their benefits with very little warning. They even managed to package some of this hard-earned money and give it as a gift to Wall Street in the form of fees on hedge funds.

    The state had its back up against the wall with a massively underfunded pension obligation, but I found this move to current pensioners to be quite callous.

  • aldenpyle66

    There are other issues in the race. Raimondo is largely supported by out-of-state interests, is very liberal/left on abortion (3rd trimester) and favors drivers license for undocumented aliens.
    She is also very intelligent and competent.
    The larger issue is whether a state like Rhode Island (with 1.2 million and not growing), and with 36 separate town and city governments, and no discernible future, should exist.

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