Don Carcieri Has Been A Good Governor

Don Carcieri, in office for the past eight years, is now in the twilight of his governorship. Barring an in-state crisis of some kind to place him front and center, his remaining days as Rhode Island’s chief executive will be a quiet time, as he finishes up and prepares to turn the office over to Governor-Elect Lincoln Chafee. As one of his first supporters, I believe he has done a pretty good job and I like the way he has conducted himself. I would hope that most Rhode Islanders will feel the same, and, considering the tough circumstances of facing a hostile legislature that worked to limit his power, would give him the credit he deserves.

In Don Carcieri the Ocean State had an honest and effective leader, a man of principle who wasn’t afraid to use his office and the limited powers granted him to move the state forward. Overall, he ran of pretty clean administration. He nominated solid legal minds for the judiciary bench. He took on government spending and mismanagement. He supported good government efforts like separation of powers, voter initiative, and getting legislators off boards and commissions. He fought against Harrah’s attempt to hijack our constitution while preserving Twin Rivers’ viability through a difficult period of bankruptcy. He supported the development of clean energy sources as a means to bring a new industry to our state. He fought back against the dominance of the public employee unions and their influence on Smith Hill. He worked to improve the Quonset Industrial Park and bring major corporate players like Fidelity and Amgen to our state.

On a host of critical issues Don Carcieri was on the right side, and none was more important than the tireless effort he made to rein in state spending and personnel costs. Though his budget submissions were always DOA, he had the courage to face up to the spiraling costs of state government and to get at the structural nature of the deficit. His outspoken warnings about those deficits were a healthy pushback against a Democrat-controlled legislature that did just about anything it could – and sometimes nothing at all – to avoid making the hard choices that would upset the special interests that have a lock on the legislature.

It can be argued that Carcieri limited his effectiveness with the General Assembly leadership by taking to the bully pulpit of the airwaves and creating a confrontational relationship with Bill Murphy, Gordon Fox and Joe Montalbano. I’m not sure of that. Remember that he faced a legislature that went out of its way to reduce his already limited powers, and he undoubtedly was wary of being co-opted. Can you imagine Charlie Fogarty attempting to get the legislative leadership to make tough choices? And the prospect of Lincoln Chafee’s more agreeable relationship with them is not raising my confidence level.

Governor Carcieri’s stands on some social issues did alienate him from many Rhode Islanders. The Governor is a strong Catholic and proud of it, and to be a card carrying Catholic politician these days means saying no to abortion and no to gay rights, including legal recognition of same sex unions. On the divisive immigration front, he played right out of Fox News’ playbook, which hardly endeared him to the state’s Hispanic community. He can also be faulted for not building a stronger Republican base in the state, but I’m not sure anyone can do that.

Considering the Democratic-Labor dominance of the state, the citizens of Rhode have been wise to elect a countervailing presence in the governorship. For the past 16 years that is what they have thought best, and the terms in office of Lincoln Almond and Don Carcieri have reaffirmed that viewpoint. Whether our “independent” next governor will prove to be so in practice remains to be seen. In the meantime, let’s give Governor Carcieri our thanks for doing the best job he could, and to wish him well in his future endeavors.


  1. And in other news, pigs were seen flying, snow falling in hell, dogs and cats living together in peace and harmony....

    maybe for you, Johnny, and the rest the elite, but for the workers of the state, Disaster Don can't leave the corner office fast enough.

    If you are the voice of the business community then no wonder why this state is in the shape it is ....

  2. How are things in the bubble?

  3. Don Carcieri was a voice for the people, and tried his best under very difficult circumstances. He stood up to the Union owned General Assembly and tried his best to do good for the people of Rhode Island.

    I will miss Govenor Carcieri, and can only hope all the good he has done for the State of RI does not become unraveled under the Union owned Lincoln Chaffee.

  4. Don Carcieri was divisive on a lot of issues; the sooner he departs the better.

  5. I concur, John. While I disagree with Carcieri on issues like gay marriage I am proud of the work he's done in Rhode Island as governor, especially coming in completely from the outside as he did. I wish him the very best in his retirement.

  6. Thanks, David C, for yoyr comments, and not taking the anonymous route!! JW

  7. I can't even stand to look at a photo or video of Governor Carcinogen. I wish he would take up permanent residence in his Florida condo and never show his face in RI again.

  8. One of the most discouraging facts about R.I. citizens is that they still do not understand where the power resides in our Government. How can you criticize a Governor who has no power when compared to the General Assembly leadership. The Governor vetoes something; the legislature automatically overrides it. The Governorss proposes a budget that is responsible; the legislature changes it to suit the special interests. All a Governor, particularly a Republican, can do is TRY to persuade. You can't persuade a legislature ruled by members owned by the special interest, particularly the municipal unions. Wake up Rhode Island and realize where the problem is.

  9. What I don't like about Carcieri is his fraudulent manner. He always stated that Twin River should not become a casino, as the ones in CT, no table games, etc, but I guess those video big-busted dealers at Twin River are NOT table games??!! He did allow them, so what does his first statement mean? That's such an odd way of being AGAINST full casino at Twin River.


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