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A crash course in the art of politics

April 21, 2012

PROVIDENCE – What are the five most important things to know if you are thinking about running for office? How do you raise money for a political campaign? How can a challenger defeat an incumbent in an election?
Those are just some of the questions that will be raised and answered by some of the state’s political, media and good-government luminaries at Operation Clean Government’s 2012 Candidate’s School.
Central Falls Receiver Robert Flanders, who brought that city into bankruptcy but was terminated as a consultant to Providence Mayor Angel Taveras when the mayor rejected the idea of bankruptcy for his city, will be the lunchtime speaker at the event.
General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who saw her approval ratings soar after the General Assembly adopted her proposals for pension reform late last year, will address students at the conclusion of the event.
An all-day crash course in campaigning, the sixth biennial class will be held at the Rhode Island College student union in Providence next Saturday, April 28. It begins at 7 a.m. with a breakfast and runs until 5 p.m.
Since it began in 2002, more than 500 Rhode Islanders who caught the political bug have attended the OCG. Some, like former Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri, Democratic Rep. David Cicilline and former Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, are household names, and others work behind the scenes supporting their favorite candidates.
Secretary of State Ralph Mollis and RI Ethics Commission attorney Jason Gramitt will make presentations on the five most important things for a potential candidate to know.
URI Professor Victor Profughi, who operates Quest Research, will speak on choosing a research and polling staff. Seth Klaiman, of SMK Associate will offer a tutorial on fundraising.
Dealing with the media will be explained by John Howell, publisher of Beacon Publications; Ted Nesi of WPRI television; and Dave Preston of the New Harbor Group public relations firm.
Woonsocket City Councilmen Chris Beauchamp and state Rep. Larry Valencia will join former Rep. Carol Mumford to discuss the hard knocks of door-to-door campaigning in an afternoon breakout session.
The heads of Rhode Island’s three officially recognized political parties, Democrat Edwin Pacheco, Republican Mark Zaccaria and Moderate Ken Block will speak at a session on the benefit of party affiliation moderated by RIC Professor Thomas Schmeling, head of the college’s political science department.
Lincoln Sen. Edward O’Neill, an Independent who toppled former Senate President Joseph Montalbano several and state Rep. Teresa Tanzi, who upset Rep. David Caprio in a Democratic primary in 2010, will talk about campaigning against an incumbent.
The hot topic in the state’s political scene now, municipal and school committee finances will be bandied about by Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Robert Walsh, Executive Director of the National Education Association Rhode Island. Former State Auditor Ernest Almonte will be the moderator.
Other sessions will cover negative campaigning, opposition research and websites and social media.
The event is hosted by RIC’s political science department and John Hazen White’s foundation, LOOKOUT RI.
"The Political Science Department is pleased to support OCG's work in encouraging broader participation in the democratic process, and happy that our students will have an opportunity to see democracy in action," Schmeling said in a written statement
RIC President Nancy Carriuolo added, “I am proud that RIC's professors and students strive to serve the needs of our State's citizens. Sponsorship of training potential candidates for public office is one example of such outreach."
Tuition for the school is $120 and that includes breakfast, lunch and printed materials, payable via PayPal on OCG’s web site, or by check to: Box 8683, Warwick, RI 02888. Seats are still available.
Seating is limited, but OGC President Margaret Kane said attempts will be made to accommodate as many people as possible.

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