By JOHN HOWELL The former 12-year Cranston mayor and twice Republican candidate for governor anticipated the question he would get at the Thursday Warwick Rotary Club meeting. After 20 minutes of providing an overview of the political scene - from the
The former 12-year Cranston mayor and twice Republican candidate for governor anticipated the question he would get at the Thursday Warwick Rotary Club meeting.
After 20 minutes of providing an overview of the political scene — from the national to the state and local levels that included a rundown of the “plethora” of candidates for the Second Congressman District since Jim Langevin announced he would not seek reelection — Allan Fung expected he would be asked if he would run for the seat.
Club member Robert DeGregorio didn’t disappoint.
“Stay tuned,” Fung replied. “You will hear more from me soon.”
Fung was mayor when the state shutdown in March of 2020 because of Covid-19. He recalled thinking the virus would soon run its course and things would return to normal. Never did he imagine that two and a half years later the pandemic would play such a big part in the world and have such an impact on our lives, the economy and government.
“It has made a profound impact on politics … it’s a lot more bitter and divisive,” he said.
Fung also believes the pandemic/politics has affected the news media. With so many information outlets from social media, digital sources, broadcast and print, “you can’t tell what is true and not true.”
He urged his audience “to stay on top of what’s going on in your backyard,” admitting that can be difficult.
“We’re all hoping for change,” he said of an underlying yearning to put the pandemic behind us.
On the state scene, he pointed to the commencement of the General Assembly and how legislators will consider hundreds of bills.
“Speaker (K. Joseph) Shekarchi is getting on his feet,” he said of what he has faced because of the pandemic and assuming a leadership role.
Fung expects recreational use of marijuana, housing and education as key issues this session. On the educational front he noted Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has identified universal pre-K as a goal.
As a result of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding he said the state and municipalities face a “once in a generation opportunity to build back our community.”
He said the “purse strings are not held by the feds,” although he noted there are some restrictions limiting the use of funds and requiring when the money is to be spent. He predicted ARPA will be “transforming generations to come.”
An attorney who focuses on government issues, Fung didn’t shy from questions about elections, from rank choice voting to what he expects candidates would have to spend to be viable in a race for Congress.
Fung favors a “run off” election in situations where no one candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote in a given race. Under rank choice, he explained voters would rate their choices in instances where there are more than two candidates on the ballot. The candidate receiving the overall highest rating would become the winner.
Messaging is critical to winning elections, he said. On the ward and even the city level that is best done one-on-one. On the state level or the congressional district, he said, candidates have to rely on the media whether television or digital to get across their message.
“The bigger races are all about the money,” he said.
In his 2020 race for governor Fung said, “people thought I was best friends with Donald Trump” because of the advertising of his opponents.
“Spend enough money and people will believe it,” Fung said.
As for what it would take to run a credible campaign for CD2, Fung put the tab at $1.5 million to $2 million and twice that amount with a primary. Even that amount he put on the low end of the scale.
What about PAC money?
Fung said that doesn’t enter the picture, if at all, until after the primary. Also, Fung noted, that candidates can’t solicit those funds and PAC support can end up as “surprise” advertising.
Looking at the race for governor, Fung viewed it as a “knock down drag out fight,” which from the sound of it he won’t be in.
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