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NEW: GOP Leader Michael Napolitano Joins Block Campaign

Monday, January 06, 2014


Michael Napolitano has joined the Ken Block for Governor campaign as director of operations.

"Ken Block is very lucky to have [Napolitano] on board," said Representative Doreen Costa (R) of RI's 31st District. "I've known Mike for several years, and he would be an asset to anybody's campaign. When he puts his mind to something, he gives 100 percent."

Napolitano currently serves as Chairman of the Lincoln Republican Town Committee, and previously served as communications director and press secretary for John Robitaille's 2010 campaign for Governor, as well as spokesman for John Loughlin's Congressional campaign while he was in Iraq. He currently serves as communications director for the RIGOP and is also on the Executive Board and several committees.

"Rhode Island is tied for the nation's highest unemployment rate and 49th for business climate due to years of Democrat control," said Napolitano. "We need a Governor who is going to tirelessly work to turn this state around."

"Ken Block has been a crusader on everything from eliminating the Master Lever to the 38 Studios disaster to exposing waste and fraud in our state's Medicaid and food stamp programs. His comprehensive plans to attract new job-creating businesses and save a billion dollars in wasteful state spending show beyond doubt that he is the person to turn our state around. I am very excited to be given this opportunity to work with the first class campaign team he is putting together."

His roles with the Block campaign will include assisting in outreach to Republicans throughout the state, providing strategic advice and overseeing multiple campaign activities.

"With key Republican leaders like Tony Bucci heading up fundraising and Mike Napolitano organizing critical grassroots operations, the momentum of our campaign is clearly accelerating," said Block.


Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Block Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI

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10. Can Block convince voters he is more than a third party player?


To win in the GOP primary, Block is going to need to convince GOP primary voters that his ideals align with the fundamental beliefs of the Republican Party. 


He did get a political gift.  As GoLocalProv reported - Blocks opponent in the GOP primary, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has been a consistent donor for a decade to many of the top Democrats in the Party.


Both Block and Fung will be challenged to explain their GOP credentials.

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9. Is Block too much of a techno-candidate?


Block, the founder of a software company, love to talk about technology solutions to public policy problems. He is going to have to define his solutions to problems in a tangible way.  Often, voters connect to simple themes, "Hope and Change" or from "Head Start to Harvard." 


Block is going to need to be able to show he can connect to all Rhode Islanders - we are a retail political state.

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8. Can Block raise money?


Block has demonstrated he is serious about running - he has already invested $500,000 of his own money to win the GOP primary, but he will need an estimated $3 million to win the primary and General Election next November.


To date, his fundraising base has been small and while Fung is no Gina Raimondo in fundraising, he does have a modest Republican fundraising base.

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7. Will Block defend the behavior of National Republicans?


If 15 months from now Ted Cruz works tirelessly to close the federal government over the implementation of Obamacare, will GOP Governor Ken Block speak out on the issue? 


Will Block praise or criticize Cruz? In the primary, conservative voters may want him to praise Cruz and in the General election, the majority of voters may want him to condemn Cruz.

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6. Can Block attract RI GOP leaders?


A few weeks ago Fung announced an advisory group of prominent Republicans.  The announcement gave Fung's efforts some momentum. Block would pick up a lot of credibility if he were to peel some Fung supporters over to his team.


In addition, a number of leading Republicans have yet to make an announcement - if they break to Block it may create momentum.

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5. Can Block connect with voters in the General Election?


Assuming Block beat Fung in a GOP primary and went on to face a progressive Democrat like Providence Mayor Angel Taveras or rising star Clay Pell, can Block work the Greek Festival in Cranston or the Scituate Art Festival as well as these Democrats?


Will undecided voters connect to Block?

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4. Will Block's lack of previous elected office help or hinder?


It can be argued that never having been elected before could be perceived as a negative.


Sure, Governor Don Carcieri was never previously elected to office and Governor Bruce Sundlun had only been elected to the state's Constitutional Congress, but voters may want to be sure that Block will know a federal emergency declaration from a new software version - or will each new storm be deemed Sandy 2.0 and so on.

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3. Is Block the smartest guy in the room?


Make no mistake about it, Block is smart. Business smart, policy smart, but could he be too smart and then not be able to connect to voters.


Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar (so was Gina Raimondo), but one thing about Bill Clinton was that he could play the role of a good ol' boy as good as anyone. He could make any voter feel right at home.


Block will need to channel his intelligence into a language and approach that connects to the CEO he is asking to support his effort as equally as asking a unemployed mom in Pawtucket.

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2. How will he handle the plethora of special interests?


This time Block will have to answer the questionnaire from the FOP, the Right-to-Life groups, the Environment Council, MADD, the Teamsters, The Northern RI Chamber of Commerce, NEA-RI, arts advocacy groups, the NAACP, and you get the picture.


Consistency will matter. One group's endorsement will spark another groups condemnation. Mr. Block, welcome to the 2014 governor's race.

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1. Can he handle the hot lights?


The one thing about being the third or fourth candidate in a race is people remember the smart things you said, but don't pay much attention to the dumb things you said. Heck, you really didn't have a real chance to win so the assessment is not very stringent.


This time will be different. He needs to run not one but two nearly flawless races to be the next Governor of Rhode Island. His effort in 2010 will help him, but this time he has a real chance to win and the stakes are much higher


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So.....he worked for Robitaille, and is now going to work for the guy that pretty much cost Robitaille the election? Doesn't smell right to me.....

Comment #1 by Doug Acclan on 2014 01 06

Sorry Mr. Napolitano but Mr. Block is an opportunist extraordinaire.
His jump to the Republican party is self serving to the max. But then, that may be the consummate definition of a politician, of which Mr. Block "used" to profess he was not.

Probably would have gotten my vote if he stayed with the Moderate Party label he worked so hard to establish, only to abandon it after one attempt at public office.

Comment #2 by Walter Miller on 2014 01 06

Doug, That was last cycle. Robitaille isn't going to walk through that door again. The real issue is to elect someone who will change the state. Going by your standards you set down it would be almost impossible to vote for any Presidential ticket. Most join to primary opponents together. Obama/Biden, Reagan/Bush, Clinton/Gore, Gore/Lieberman and so on. I haven't a clue who I will end up supporting this primary but find no flaw in Mr Napolitano joining the Block Campaign. Given the two candidates who threw their hat in the race he chose one to back.

Comment #3 by Winston Smith on 2014 01 07

...make that "....join TWO primary.....

Comment #4 by Winston Smith on 2014 01 07

It's a long campaign. And the people behind them mean much less than the candidate. Fung has a ten page resume of results, and people really trust him. Block is an admitted opportunist who has been running for almost a year and hasn't gotten much traction because his personality puts people off. He might have good ideas, but the guy who I can trust gets my vote, and that's Mayor Fung.

Comment #5 by Barry Holmes on 2014 01 07

We clearly need more Republicans in Rhode Island, can anyone dispute that? Mr. Block has stepped up to the plate and is a strong and viable candidate. The negative comments posted here are so transparent and all coming from the same place, story after story regarding the gubernatorial race here on Go Local. There are campaign insiders from from one camp determined to take this race into the gutter. Clearly If you are a Republican there are plenty of Democrats to go after for ruining our state. Focus your time and energy on them. For in the end if you bring this race down to that low level they will prevail.

Comment #6 by Reagan Republican on 2014 01 07

Reagan that's a bowl of laughs. GoLocal is so obviously proBlock with the Josh Fenton-Jeff Britt connection. I think they were roommates.

Ken Block goes on the Dan York show and agrees he's only in the Republican party logistically, not ideologically. That's when he lost my vote.

Comment #7 by George McDonald on 2014 01 07

Mike Napolitano is a quality person and I respect his thoughts. With Fung,Block and Raimondo declared I think we have some seriously qualified candidates focused on the solvency of our state and cities. Any candidate who is not financially savvy or is not focused on stabilizing the cities and promoting real private sector job growth should hang it up right now.

Comment #8 by michael riley on 2014 01 07

The issue we RI Republicans need to focus on are between Block and Fung, who do we believe will do the better job as Governor. Looking at Block's party switch should only come into play when we ask ourselves an honest question - Has Block switched parties to make it easier for him to win or was the switch an ideological shift? If it is the former, that concerns me due to the fact that we need a governor who will help recruit/inspire/bring along lower level candidates. Having worked with Fung on a campaign, I have no doubt he'll do that. As for Block, I haven't asked him, but hope to and hope that he'll answer that he will work for the betterment of the party - helping to make the RI GOP viable in RI after 70+ years of Dem domination.

Also - don't be surprised folks if some other GOP people come out for Block. Both Fung and Block present some very good qualities and appeal to particular sectors in our state. I agree with someone else who said earlier that there's no need for this primary to devolve into a poo slinging contest. That won't help either candidate, imo. Instead we really need to take a hard look at the qualities of both candidates and decide which one we want most in our next governor.

Comment #9 by Donn Roach on 2014 01 07

Any of the three will be a huge upgrade from what we have now.

Comment #10 by michael riley on 2014 01 07

Barry and George, I think you need to rephrase your question. You both ask if Block joined the Republican party because either A) His views shifted to theirs, or B) better opportunity to victory. The answer is option C) The Republican Party has expanded its tent to include more people including Mr. Block. Also, in all of the ways Ken Block may not fit the traditional Republican, Allen Fung doesn't either. Gone are the days the party picks people based on unpopular issues. The Republican Party has 2 people who both fit under our large tent that hopefully will use this primary as a chance to show the entire state all the possible viewpoints allowed under the Republican Party. I have been hoping for a primary in this race since 2012 and now we have one. I couldn't be happier. If we can prevent the supporters of Fung and Block from attacking each other, we'd be all set!

Comment #11 by Matthew Guerra on 2014 01 07

For the Republicans here, what issues/philosophies do Republicans mainly to object to about Ken Block? Is it the social issues such as his pro-choice stance?

Comment #12 by Art West on 2014 01 10

Well, for me Art it is the fact that Ken is not a Republican... he is just using the Republican party for ballot placement. Mike Gardiner points this out all the time... all the GOP can offer a candidate is ballot placement... and that is all Block wanted. He must bring over the moderate to liberal voters... people who voted for Obama like most people did in RI to vote for him in the primary. Somehow he will have to find a way to get the people who voted for Obama to disaffiliate and register as Republicans to vote for him in the primary. His thinking might be wise... he voted for Obama, so he can win over the Obama voter.
He's not a Republican though, just posing as one in order to get to the Governor's office. It just might work even though some might think it's a bit sleazy. I mean he has Gordon Fox's guy Britt figuring this all out and he's a sharp guy.

Comment #13 by Jim Geremia on 2014 01 12

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