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A GUIDE TO THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES: RHODE ISLAND

7 minute read
TIME

RHODE ISLAND

Population (1994): 997,000 (down 0.7% from 1990), 0.4% of U.S. total

Voting-age population: 764,000; 1994 turnout, 46%

Median age: 34 years

Median household income: $31,928 ($336 below U.S. median)

Unemployment: 5.1% (0.5% below U.S. average, March 1996)

Last presidential election: Clinton (D): 47% Bush (R): 29% Perot (I): 23%

Congressional delegation: Three Democrats, one Republican

“Little Rhody” may be the smallest state, but it doesn’t lack character. Once a haven for political refugees from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the free spirit survived the Revolution, and Rhode Island was the last of original 13 states to join the new Union. This year’s election continues the tradition of political unrest: Claiborne Pell, an Ocean State Senator since 1960, is retiring, and Jack Reed is leaving his House seat as he attempts to succeed Pell. In this Democratic state, the G.O.P. hopes to capitalize on these vacancies, building on their success in 1994, when voters elected a G.O.P. Governor and re-elected Republican John Chafee to the Senate.

NANCY MAYER (R) SENATE (OPEN SEAT)

BORN: June 9, 1937, Philadelphia EDUCATION: Barnard College, B.A., 1958; Brown U, M.A.T., 1972; Northeastern U, J.D., 1982 FAMILY: Husband, William; four children RELIGION: Jewish MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: Rhode Island Treasurer, 1993- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 603216, Providence 02906. Tel.: 401-621-8238

Mayer, a social moderate who supports abortion rights, is a fiscal conservative with a record of cutting wasteful spending as the state’s General Treasurer. She has detailed ideas on how to adjust the tax system, including indexing the capital-gains tax to inflation and giving estate-tax cuts to help small businesses. She’ll have to buck a hefty Democratic tradition, though, to become the Ocean State’s first female senator.

THE ISSUES

Budget NR Medicare NR Defense NR Abortion NR Guns NR Gays NR Bosnia NR NAFTA NR Welfare NR National Service NR (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “Unless we reverse course, America is going to slide inevitably into second-class economic status. Without change, a child born today will have to pay sky-high taxes while facing a deteriorating standard of living.”

JACK REED (D) SENATE (OPEN SEAT)

BORN: Nov. 12, 1949, Cranston EDUCATION: U.S. Military Academy, B.S., 1971; Harvard U, M.P.P., 1973, J.D., 1982 FAMILY: Single RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: Army, 1967-79 OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: Rhode Island Senate, 1985-90; U.S. House, 1990-

ADDRESS: P.O. Box 8628, Cranston 02920. Tel.: 401-944-5577 Portraying himself as the heir to retiring Senator Claiborne Pell’s moderate politics, Reed says his commitment to education mirrors that of the man who created the Pell grant–in fact, he worked with Pell to raise the maximum grant to $4,500. From his seat on the House Judiciary Committee, Reed supported the Brady Bill and President Clinton’s crime bill, which included the assault-weapons ban. He began this campaign as a prohibitive favorite, and kept the mantle into the home stretch.

THE ISSUES

Budget NR Medicare NR Defense NR Abortion NR Guns NR Gays NR Bosnia NR NAFTA NR Welfare NR National Service NR (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I oppose–and will continue to oppose–massive reduction in student loans for those who have the talent but not the resources to go to college.”

GIOVANNI CICIONE (R) District 1 (East–part of Providence; Pawtucket; Newport)

BORN: July 21, 1970, Ithaca, N.Y. EDUCATION: George Mason U, B.A., 1993; Boston U, J.D., 1996 FAMILY: Wife, Chelia RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Real estate developer POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: P.O. Box 41327, Providence 02940. Tel.: 401-274-3536

Running against a Kennedy, never an enviable opportunity, Cicione has chosen the venerable tax-and-spend attack. He has signed a taxpayer-protection pledge not to raise taxes and favors tax cuts for the poor–part of his “trickle-up theory”: that putting more money in workers’ pockets will help free many of them from reliance on federal subsidies, which in turn will free up more of everyone’s tax dollars. At the same time, Cicione says he would balance the budget by limiting “corporate welfare,” which has a good ring in this working-class district.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion YES Guns YES Gays NO Bosnia YES NAFTA YES Welfare YES Medical Leave NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “[My economic plan consists of] balancing the budget, securing the health of Social Security and Medicare, and lowering taxes.”

PATRICK KENNEDY (D) District 1

BORN: July 14, 1967, Brighton, Mass. EDUCATION: Providence College, B.A., 1991 FAMILY: Single RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Public official POLITICAL CAREER: Rhode Island House, 1989-94; U.S. House, 1994- ADDRESS: 50 Ann Mary Street, Box 303, Pawtucket 02860. Tel.: 401-431-1996

Kennedy, the youngest child of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, is also the fourth Kennedy cousin in elective office. Still one of the youngest Representatives at 29, he is a liberal and a member of the National Security Committee who helped secure funding for the Sea Wolf submarine and housing improvements at Newport’s Naval Education and Training Center.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion YES Guns YES Gays NO Bosnia NO NAFTA NO Welfare NO Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “Americans knew about [the bill to repeal the assault-weapons ban]…We did not have to read the N.R.A. questionnaire to know about this bill. Families like mine all across this country know all too well what damage weapons can do.”

ROBERT WEYGAND (D) District 2 (West–Western Providence; Warwick)

BORN: May 10, 1948, Pawtucket EDUCATION: U of Rhode Island, B.F.A., 1971, B.S., 1976 FAMILY: Wife, Frances; three children RELIGION: Roman Catholic MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Landscape architect; architectural-firm executive POLITICAL CAREER: Rhode Island House, 1985-93, lieutenant governor, 1993- ADDRESS: 708 Reservoir Avenue, Cranston 02910 Tel.: 401-943-1996

Taking an unusual route into politics–as a landscape architect–Weygand has turned public service into a successful second career. Now he wants a seat in Congress and has a record of supporting small businesses, revitalizing the Rhode Island Small Business Advisory Council and pushing tax breaks that won him recognition as 1995 SBA Rhode Island Financial Advocate of the Year.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare NO Defense NO Abortion YES Guns YES Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA NO Welfare NO Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: [On tax deductions for college expenses] “It is a disgrace that that hard-working families cannot afford college.”

RICHARD WILD (R) District 2

BORN: Feb. 18, 1951, Providence EDUCATION: Dartmouth College, B.A., 1973; U of Vermont, M.D., 1977; George Washington U, J.D., 1986 FAMILY: Wife, Anne Spalding-Wild RELIGION: Protestant MILITARY: Army, 1977-82 OCCUPATION: Physician; college instructor POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: 1800 Post Road, Warwick 02888. Tel.: 401-736-8300

Wild is a physician with a law degree who hopes to leave both professions, for the moment, to fill the seat left open by Jack Reed’s Senate bid. He signed an anti-tax pledge, and warns that Medicare must be restructured to be saved. The Second District, however, is traditionally Democratic and may not heed the call of the Wild.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns YES Gays YES Bosnia YES NAFTA YES Welfare YES Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I didn’t move into this district to run for public office. I’m running for public office because too many people are moving out of this district.”

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