The Wizard Behind the Wall: Rhode Island Democrats' turbulent year

The College Hill Independent:

The Wizard Behind the Wall: Rhode Island Democrats’ turbulent year (Sept. 24, 2018)

By: Joshua F. Waldman

“The conflict between Rep. Walsh and the Rhode Island Democratic leadership took root in political and personal battles. Walsh fought numerous bills the Speaker put forward and passed, including what she described to the Independent as the “draconian Kristen’s Law.” Signed by Governor Raimondo in June, it allows life sentences for drug dealers whose drugs are involved in an overdose. Rep. Walsh “fought the law hard… even [asking] the Governor publically to veto it,” as she wrote in text messages to the Independent. “That’s likely the grudge [Mattiello]’s holding,” she elaborated. But the grudge isn’t just about policy: Walsh made national news when she publicly accused legislators of drinking while at work, with “file cabinets full of booze.”

These actions were equivalent to sticking her “thumb directly in the Speaker’s eye,” Walsh told the Independent. Speaker Mattiello struck back fiercely, endorsing Earnheart, and donating $1,000 directly to his campaign. Furthermore, because there was no Democratic district committee in place to make an endorsement, the state committee got to decide whom to endorse. Despite Earnheart’s public support for President Trump and tweets that ranged in topic from “Pizzagate” to denigrating portrayals of undocumented immigrants whom he referred to as “illegals,” State Rep. Joseph McNamara, the Chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party, echoed the Speaker, endorsing Walsh’s opponent and then only retracting the endorsement when it received national pushback from news outlets and high-profile Democrats including Congressman David Cicilline. As Rep. Walsh put it, “this is what happens when you challenge authority” in Rhode Island.”

Rhode Island Democrats rescind backing for Trump supporter

The Providence Journal:

Rhode Island Democrats rescind backing for Trump supporter (July 05, 2018) 

The speed with which the Party rescinded their endorsement shows how scared they are. The Democratic Leadership has long had a vice-like grip on the members of the party. We proved through an organized campaign of calls, emails, and letters, that backroom deals and retaliatorry behavior will no longer be an acceptable standard. 

 

Why Did the Rhode Island Democratic Party Endorse an Alt-Right Supporter Over a Progressive Incumbent?

Slate:

Why Did the Rhode Island Democratic Party Endorse an Alt-Right Supporter Over a Progressive Incumbent? (July 02, 2018)

Over the course of my brief tenure, I have been a voice of dissent against the backroom deals, the lack of transparency, and the corruption of the current Democratic leadership. As such, the party threw their support behind a Trump voting "Democrat". I came here to change not just the laws, but also the broken complacent system, it seems I've hit a nerve. 

Representing District 3, Locally and Nationally

Providence Journal:

Live fearlessly (December 2016)

When I was inaugurated in January of 2016, it was clear that I didn't fit the typical mold of a politician. However, sometimes you have to be unconventional in order to stand against  the outdated and corrupt political norms. It takes a certain amount of tenacity to take on the establishment and win. 

The Atlantic:

From Waitress to State Representative (November 2016)

One of the reasons I ran for office was because I didn't see anyone up there like m neighbors and me. I didn't see anyone that had to choose between paying rent or electricity, who didn't know where their next meal was coming from. I believe our government should be representative of our demographics which is why people of every economic class should have a seat at the table.  

RI Future:

End the war on cannabis (January 2017)

The war on drugs disproportionately impacts neighborhoods of color and low socioeconomic status like ours. Rather than usher in a new wave of prohibition and mass incarceration, we should bring low-income and marginalized groups into the fold by legalizing marijuana, pushing for expungement laws, and ensuring that the communities most effected by the war on drugs are not left out. 

990WBOB:

9 RI influencers to watch (February 2017)

I try to maintain good working relationships with state and local Journalists. I believe politicians at all levels of government should be held accountable to the communities who elected them. As such, 990WBOB was kind enough to include me in their 9 influences to watch list. 

The Guardian:

Drinking at the State House (March 2017)

I come from a family of working class people and I've never seen any job where alcohol was provided. As a tax payer walking into the state house and seeing people drink for every occasion from St. Patrick's Day to St. Joseph's Day seemed to be a waste of time. I believe we should hold ourselves to the same standards as the citizens we represent and shouldn't be drinking in celebration before we've accomplished anything. 

MOIRA WALSH ANNOUNCES DEMOCRATIC CANDIDACY FOR STATE REPRESENTATIVE COMMUNITY ACTIVIST OFFERS NEW LEADERSHIP IN HOUSE DISTRICT 3

PROVIDENCE – Moira Walsh announced her candidacy for State Representative in House District 3, including the Smith Hill, Charles and Wanskuck neighborhoods in Providence.

“I was born and raised in Smith Hill, and I love our neighborhood,” said Walsh, who in addition to being a longtime waitress in Providence is a former community organizer with Rhode Island Jobs with Justice. “I’m running for State Representative because our district needs someone who will give everything she’s got, every day, to fight for our community. I know I have the energy, persistence, and passion to follow through on that commitment - because our community deserves it.”

Walsh cited her strong family roots in the district as pivotal in her decision to run for office. “My first job growing up was at The Earthen Vessel, my father Michael’s cornerstone on Smith Hill that offered everything from refrigerators to school uniforms at prices our neighbors could actually afford,” she said. “My mother, Janet, worked for the Diocese of Providence and taught CCD at local parishes for more than two decades. My parents - who still live on Violet Street - always fought tirelessly to support their kids and better their community, and they instilled those same values in me.”

A parent herself, Walsh says her experiences as a single mother gives her the right perspective to represent working families in the district. “As a single mother, I have experienced what so many struggling families in our community deal with on a daily basis,” she said. “I know what it means to choose between paying for gas or for electricity. To decide between buying groceries or getting clothing for my son. I understand what it feels like to work full time, to sign up for all the extra shifts you possibly can, and still fall short at the end of the month. People in our community are working eighty hours a week and spending no time with their families, just to keep their heads above water. It seems that no matter how hard we try, the system is rigged against us, and no one is fighting to preserve the community that has given us all so much. That is why I have worked to advocate for increases in the minimum wage, for protections for workers, and that’s why I’m running.”

Walsh's candidacy was greeted with excitement across the district. Thomas Oliveira, who have lived in the area for many years, said, “I am so glad Moira is running for state representative. She understands the importance of supporting the community and local businesses, after all, her dad had one that meant a lot to the neighborhood. I know that she has the energy, honesty and commitment to make our neighborhood a better place.”

Janice Luongo, longtime community organizer and Smith Hill resident is also excited. “There is a lot of need in our community,” she said. “And we need someone like Moira who will listen and take action because many families are struggling.  Moira understands struggle, but she also knows how to bring people together to get things done. She has always lived in and loved this district, and I can’t think of anyone better to fight for the issues that matter to us at the State House.”

Walsh lives off of Douglas Avenue in the Wanskuck neighborhood of Providence with her 2 year-old son, Malcolm. She is an alum of Classical High School and Rhode Island College, a longtime server at a local Providence diner, and a former community organizer with RI Jobs with Justice.

##