Brien, Supporters Aim To Buck Write-in Hurdle Nov. 6

Dist. 50 incumbent's campaign faces daunting political history.


Incumbent Rep. Jon Brien (D-Dist. 50) and his supporters launched a write-in campaign Thursday against Democratic primary victor Stephen Casey, defying the inauspicious history of such efforts with a mix of optimism and chagrin. 

The last successful write-in campaign in RI was in 1990, according to Ian Donnis's blog, On Politics. Dist. 69 incumbent Mark Dailey failed to get enough votes to get on the ballot, and wound up running a write-in campaign against two other write-in candidates. Dailey won, but Brien's write-in effort faces an additional challenge: Casey is on the ballot.

Casey is on that ballot thanks to a 52 vote majority — hardly a resounding mandate, which gives Brien and his supporters confidence as they admit they could have done more during the primary.

"You know what? Shame on the group for doing things wrong, but you know what? We've got to work harder," said Jeanne Pepin-Budnick, co-owner of Pepin Lumber and a Brien supporter. 

One of the reasons Pepin-Budnick wants to work harder is Brien's position on the supplemental tax bill. Though she said she knows a supplemental tax bill is inevitable, "I think with him, we're going to get a fair one," she said.

"To not see him on the House floor for the next two years would be a real travesty," said Richard Fagnant. Fagnant said Brien and his supporters don't need to rally a lot of votes to counter Casey's 52-vote majority. He admitted that assumes the same people from the primary will vote at the polls Nov. 6.

"He had a lot of things stacked up against him," Fagnant said, including switched polling places and union support for Casey.

Casey credited a dogged grass-roots effort and the support of his family, including his wife, father, brothers, uncles, and neices for his success. However, Golocalprov.com reported he also got some help from SEIU District 1199NE. The union, which represents about 4,000 RI health care workers, sent a mailer underlining Brien's role in legislation that allowed the state to loan $75 million to 38 Studios. The company's collapse this summer left RI taxpayers owing about $100 million in principal and interest, according to the Providence Journal.

Golocalprov.com reports Brien has said he didn't know the bill he sponsored was intended to benefit 38 Studios specifically. Most RI legislators have said they never got the opportunity to debate whether the bill, which set up the the Job Creation Guaranty Program, would send the lion's share of $125 million to 38 Studios. The claim rings true, according an analysis of the debacle posted by Politifact. But the mailer doesn't mention that.

Brien said he wasn't considering running a write-in campaign at all after losing the primary. "I just went out to pick up my lawn signs. I was OK," he said. But then he started getting calls from voters telling him not to give up, he said, and to keep running for Dist. 50. "And so, I decided, 'You know what, that's what I'm going to do,' " Brien said.

When asked about Casey's narrow victory and whether the people urging him to keep running could have done more to help him win the primary in the first place, Brien offered a rueful analysis. "I think that the narrative in the city was that Lisa (incumbent primary defender Lisa Baldelli-Hunt D-Dist. 49) was in trouble and I was OK," he said, which lulled supporters into a mistaken sense of security. But, "We live to fight another day and that's what we're going to do," Brien said.

During his speech, Brien asked voters to remember him at the voting booth, and to add his name in the space for Dist. 50, then fill in the arrow next to it. Brien also had a poster board with a sample write-in ballot from the most recent write-in campaign, an unsuccessful attempt by Bristol's Doug Gablinske in 2010 (see attached photo).

Mew September 23, 2012 at 10:47 PM
STELLA STELLA, I LOST THE PRIMARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JON, JON i KNOW, i LOST MY SEAT ON THE CITY COUNCIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE ARROGANCE OF THE TWO POLITICIANS !! They will actually have to pay for health insurance!! Welcome to the real world!!!! Yvette, why am I not surprised that you want Jon back in the G.A.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
David Bouchard September 24, 2012 at 10:18 AM
But Yvette, of course you'd back JB; you are a right-wing Republican. I think Jon Brien is the best thing for the right-wingers of this state; this stealth Republican gets elected as a Democrat and maintains a Republican agenda, even to the point of his support of Republican candidates for Congress. I think he has a good chance of winning his write-in campaign considering he'll have the support of monied Republicans, ALEC, Tea Party, etc. Mr. Casey better get out there and get his name known.
DR September 24, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Manny a Supplemental Tax is not required.The Budget Commission could petition the State to loan the city the 20 million with interest. A win/ win for both the City and State it could be a pilot program for other distressed cities in the State.Maybe Jon Brien could round up support.The loan would be paid back in say 10 years after the necessary cuts have been made.
DR September 24, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Since you guys don't like Stella she must be doing something right. I would like to see her run for City Council. She would have my vote.
Mew September 24, 2012 at 08:09 PM
sHE HAS DONE THAT, BEEN THERE!!! SHE LOST AFTER TWO TERMS, i was very fond of thelady, I voted for her, but somwhere along the way she became arrogant, I wonder who she takes after!!!!!! She was not willing to take a cut in her council pay when everyone else did. She found nothing wrong with the increase in the trash tax!!!n Go ahead and vote for her if she runs again, It;s a free country!!
common cents September 24, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Mrs. Brien was out of touch with reality and that is why she is gone. At a city council meeting she said the ice rink at river island park should be funded while the city is in ruin.The cost to fund that ice rink 50k.The reason to fund it ,it's a quality of life issue.Are you kidding me.As a life long resident and employee of this city I was appalled.We used to go to cass park or bernon park to skate when I was a kid. Very fiscally responsible.not
common cents September 24, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Because he has done so much for us so far.If you think he knew nothing about the 38 studios money you are pretty naive.The bill jumped in in one week the exact amount Shilling was looking for.I'm sure that's just a coincidence.Only rep Watson saw that coming,I don't think so.
Brian O'Ryan September 24, 2012 at 11:30 PM
She proved her worth on the city council when she stated that she doesn't read the local paper and had no clue as to the issues the city was facing. Too busy reading her Snapple bottle label, I guess??? Lol! Hollywood couldn't write a funnier comedy than what John and Stella provide for us!!!
Mew September 24, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Common, I absolutely agree with you, I learned to swim in Social Pond many years ago, I skated on Social Pond in the winter, it was free and I'm still here to talk about it. That's why Mrs. Brien is no longer a council member. Im so happy that the two of them will be paying for their health insurance and not me!!!!
Russell Archambault September 25, 2012 at 01:23 AM
common cents; I think i saw you at cass park in the sixties when the ice seemed frozen all winter long. I haven't seen cass park frozen for years,and my quality of life has been going down hill ever since, for proof as you can see i'm on patch for the only excitement left in my life !
Yvette M Ayotte September 25, 2012 at 09:41 AM
Thank you Brian for correcting my english, I can always count on you for compliments, etc. Bottom line, I'm not running for anything but Jon is and we admire and respect his knowledge, experience and confidence. This is what Woonsocket needs at a time like this.
AxeAdcox September 25, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Ron maybe you shouldn't be trying to answer the question as to what Brien is doing differently. Maybe you should let him answer the question we he goes door to door like Casey did. That's right he doesn't have to, you are doing it for him.
Rob Borkowski (Editor) September 25, 2012 at 02:32 PM
AxeAdcox: 1) My name is Rob. 2) You're correct. Anyone who reads my story will know the answers to the questions I posed to a political candidate running for office. I think you may be confusing the mission of journalism with your personal desires.
John September 25, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Yvette, Do you make over 250 thousand dollars a year? If not, please tell me how Jon Brien works for you when he votes for tax breaks for the rich? Do you agree with Jon when he voted to cut State Aid to Education by 10 percent? That was devastating to an urban community like Woonsocket, equivalent to about 4.8 million a year taken away from our childrens education. Oh, and what is the school departments deficit 2 years after that vote? About 10 million. How is he working for his constituents in Woonsocket? Please help me understand.
David T September 25, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Exactly John! Someone please explain to us how this old mill city benefits from a guy who worries more about the very wealthy than about his typical constituent who put him in office. If John's post is accurate regarding Brien's voting record on state education funding, then we should be blaming Brien, in part, for the deficit rather than thanking him for anything. He should have been using that infamous arrogance and determination on fighting for every last vote on the GA floor for our schools and ultimately the city. EXPLAIN!!!
Seymour September 25, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I'd still like someone to hold Brien accountable for his radio ad that stated he saved the City of Woonsocket 6.1 million dollars this year alone by voting for pension reform. How did that bill save Woonsocket 6 million dollars this year?
Brian O'Ryan September 25, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Yvette, when you say, "we admire and respect his knowledge, experience and confidence" please don't speak for all of us! Woonsocket needs John Brien at a time like this??? If you think your support of John Brien is going to get you from receiving a supplemental tax...you are crazy, girl! It's coming no matter what. Union concessions will help but we will most definitely receive a tax as well. So, why support John? What is his major accomplishment that has amazed you??? VOTER ID??? You have got to be kidding us! John has an agenda...and it is right in line with his ALEC bosses!!! Tax breaks for the wealthy and pinching everything they can from the middle class. http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/What_is_ALEC%3F#What_is_ALEC.3F Do some research on the guy you claim to have so much admiration and respect for, Yvette! Oh, and check out http://www.rifuture.org/brien-joins-alec-board-as-group-comes-under-fire.html "Brien said he was just named to the group’s “governing body” in the past month. He said he was introduced to ALEC by former Woonsocket lawmaker and majority leader Jerry Martineau, a past state chair of ALEC who served jail time for political corruption for using his position in the General Assembly to curry business favors with CVS and Blue Cross. “Jerry and I have always been friends,” Brien said. “I wanted to pick up that mantle.” Yeah, John REALLY seems like the type of individual to be admired and respected!
John Labeau September 25, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Hmmmm, this makes for interesting reading... http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/19/1101359/-How-ALEC-Uses-Budget-Crises-To-Hijack-Small-Towns
John Labeau September 26, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I love the first comment under the article, "Republicans, like Rick Scott, or Scott Walker, or this Jon Brien guy, are the real Manchurian candidates. They say one thing but they are actually out to destroy your town, state, economy and democracy. Will the people notice?" And, the answer is YES! The people DID notice on Sept. 11th When we voted him out! Then the egotistic Brien launched his write-in campaign, probably pushed to do so by the ALEC organization. The people WILL NOTICE once again on Nov. 6th!
DR September 26, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Is that all you guys have on Jon Brien? Its not looking too good for Mr. Casey you better start putting more effort into this campaign.
John Labeau September 26, 2012 at 01:13 AM
And this is who you would like as Rep. of District 50? The same person who, when asked about issues in our very own city, admittedly says, "I don't know. I'm a state legislator"? http://www.zoominfo.com/#!search/profile/person?personId=620187036&targetid=profile He went on to say that the municipal unions - police, firefighters, teachers - "have been given pensions and benefits the city can no longer afford" but have no incentive to renegotiate. But a receiver, with the wave of his magic wand, can instantly cut their pensions, and there isn't a thing they can do about it. When I asked Brien how bad the pension problem was in Woonsocket, he told me he didn't know. "I'm a state legislator," he said.
John Labeau September 26, 2012 at 01:26 AM
And the hits just keep on coming... http://www.golocalprov.com/news/aaron-regunberg-ri-can-shows-its-true-colors/
The Rocket September 26, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Defeatist supplemental supporters will be sorry,this city's drowning in debt.The people in Greece are shouting today that "they're drinking your blood".That's what they're doing in Woonsocket,death by a thousand cuts.Keep taking it and follow your leaders into the abyss.
common cents September 26, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Yvette,He has been there since 06 and we've seen zilch from him.Tell me how he's helped this city.Please,I really want to believe.
common cents September 26, 2012 at 09:56 PM
DR ,What do you have on Jon Brien?And hows it not looking good for Casey?Does he have to resort to a write in campaign to get in?I don't believe he does.
John Labeau September 26, 2012 at 11:44 PM
The choice is very clear...do a Google search for "Jon Brien corruption" or "Jon Brien scandal" and you will find all the same information as I did regarding Woonsocket's very own Jon Brien. Then, do the same with Stephan Casey's name and you will find him involved in NO wrong-doing. NOTHING! THE CHOICE IS CLEAR! That is unless you want Jon Brien and his ALEC bosses hijacking the city of Woonsocket for another 2 years!
DR September 27, 2012 at 12:29 AM
What do I have on JON Brien? The answer is nothing he has my support as a taxpayer-you guys are the experts.
Linda October 28, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Excellent points! Thank you. I hope Casey prevails. Brien is a DINO.
Linda October 28, 2012 at 04:14 PM
That's it Glee!!! Thanks for saying it! :-)
Yvette M Ayotte October 28, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Watch it Mr O'ryan, I may reveal your true identity.


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