Have you noticed a change in Dan McKee’s political positions since he assumed the state’s highest office?
McKee’s been present at the fringes of Rhode Island politics for a long time. His positions don’t really reflect the progressive politics of many of the loudest voices in the Democratic Party, including in Rhode Island. In the past, he’s generally been pro-business and
McKee’s been present at the fringes of Rhode Island politics for a long time. His positions don’t really reflect the progressive politics of many of the loudest voices in the Democratic Party, including in Rhode Island. In the past, he’s generally been pro-business and he criticized former governor Gina Raimondo for not doing enough to help the small businesses shuttered by her lockdown orders during the pandemic. As Cumberland’s mayor, he started the Blackstone Valley Charter School and has been a leading advocate for charter schools in the state.
As governor, McKee has signed onto some pretty progressive legislation, even seemingly walking back his support of charter schools. Though he vowed to testify against a bill that would put a moratorium on charter schools, he hasn’t said he’d vote against it. Despite previously voiced concerns about the Act on Climate, which gives unelected bureaucrats sweeping powers to direct public policy, McKee signed the bill. More recently, McKee has vocally supported numerous gun control bills being considered by the Rhode Island General Assembly. That includes a bill that would ban so-called “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines.
Why, after a long record of fairly moderate positions, has McKee suddenly pivoted towards the left? Perhaps because McKee has announced his intention to run for governor in 2022. And that means appealing to a state that, even though most residents do not have a registered party affiliation, vote Democrat.
Could becoming a more vocal advocate of progressive causes be an attempt to win over left-wing politicians and avoid a primary? Quite possibly.
If that’s McKee’s strategy, it’s not working. Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea recently announced her intention to challenge McKee for the governorship.
It just goes to show that voters, particularly libertarian voters, can’t count on moderate politicians who hold favorable positions to stick up for principles when support from influential voting blocs in the two-party duopoly is on the line.
Libertarians need their own candidates for office. Especially in a left-wing state like Rhode Island, we need candidates who are committed to the principles of individual liberty and limited government. We need candidates who are accountable to a group of voters who share the same beliefs and won’t just blow off libertarian critiques of policy as fringe positions.
Rhode Island has some of the strictest ballot access laws in the country. We need 5% of the vote in either a gubernatorial or presidential election in order to receive party status and register candidates and voters as libertarians.
Just as we can’t ensure principled pro-liberty arguments are influencing public policy in Rhode Island without libertarian candidates, we can’t achieve party status unless we have candidates willing to run for office.
The Libertarian Party of Rhode Island needs your help.
Interested in running for office? Reach out to us here.
Even if you’re not interested in running, you can still help us elect liberty-friendly candidates by donating to the party.