Several sources have confirmed that Sen. John Tassoni is announcing imminently that he is running for Lt. Gov. of Rhode Island in 2010 – regardless of whether the current incumbent – Elizabeth Roberts – seeks re-election.
This announcement comes as quite a surprise to political analysts since Tassoni has not been talking about running for higher office and he only has $14,000 in his campaign account.
Tassoni is the Democratic State Senator for District 22 which encompasses Smithfield and North Smithfield. He first won election in 2000, beating Republican Michael Flynn, and has won re-election handily since. Since Tassoni is a business agent at the state’s largest public employees union – AFSCME Council 94 – expect Tassoni to rely heavily on labor’s support for his Lt. Gov. bid.
Tassoni has been no stranger to controversy. Just this year, Tassoni made national news for introducing legislation that would create state government oversight of local youth sports programs. In addition, Tassoni proposed to legalize sports betting in the state.
If Roberts does in fact opt into the field of candidates running for Governor, many experts expect State Representatives Ed Pacheco (D-47 Burrillvile, Glocester) and Betsy Dennigan (D-62 East Providence, Pawtucket) to get into the race as well. In fact, Ed Fitzpatrick profiled Dennigan in a column today.
Update: The Valley Breeze confirms my report, but they assert that Tassoni will only seek the office if Lt. Gov. Roberts does not run.