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Recent news from Rhode Island’s Moderate Party

Various news about the Rhode Island Moderate Party since the election:

Most recently, the party’s chairman Robert Corrente stepped down from that position so that Ken Block, who had resigned while he ran for governor, could take over.

Party executive director Christine Hunsinger says former U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente (kuh-RENT’-ee) resigned the week after the Nov. 2 election.

Block, an entrepreneur, got 6.5 percent of the vote in this month’s election, enough to guarantee the party a spot on the ballot.

In an editorial, the Providence Journal recommends that independent governor-elect Lincoln Chafee hire the party’s own Ken Block for a “top job” in his government.

Texas hired Mr. Block while he worked at GTECH to design software to track Food Stamps use. Data mining — the use of computers to analyze vast quantities of information, in this case largely grocery sales in stores across the state, identified huge fraud and waste in the program. Texas saved about $1 billion over 15 years as a result.

Rhode Island has similar challenges in the administration of such programs as Medicaid, though probably more of duplication and other inefficiencies than actual fraud. Bringing new technology, such as data mining, to that and other large and wasteful programs, could go a long way to making state government less costly and more effective.

A Democratic state legislator joined the Providence Journal’s call to hire Block, and the Brown Daily Herald is predicting that the Moderate Party is “just getting started.”

Block was not the only candidate the Moderate Party fielded this year.

It ran one other candidate for statewide office, Christopher Little, who garnered 14.4 percent of the vote in the attorney general’s race.

Block said the next plan on his party’s agenda is to field candidates for the General Assembly in 2012. He has already heard from potential candidates who have expressed interest in running for the Moderate Party in that cycle, he said.

Block has not decided if he will run in any future elections, he said.

Since the election, a representative in the state legislature has called on Governor-elect Chafee to exploit Block’s expertise in his administration. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, D-Woonsocket, submitted a recommendation to Chafee that he work with Block on saving the state money, according to a General Assembly press release.

Columnist Ed Fitzpatrick wrote a piece focusing on the Moderate Party’s “moderate success” and their plans for the future.

On one hand, the Moderate Party’s main target is the General Assembly, but it fielded just three Assembly candidates and they all lost. The party’s three local candidates also met with defeat.

On the other hand, party founding-father Kenneth J. Block out-debated better-known opponents in the governor’s race and finished fourth out of seven, collecting enough votes to keep the Moderate Party on the ballot in 2012 and 2014. And the party’s attorney general candidate, Christopher H. Little, did fairly well, finishing third out of five with 14.4 percent of the vote.

“First and foremost, we introduced statewide the concept of a new political party,” Block said Monday.

And finally, although a bit repetitive, Ken Block’s reaction to the election.

Block notes that his Independent and Democrat challengers were very well financed from early on, while the Moderate Party had to fight through the courts and hire petition drivers from out of state to get access to the ballot.

Further down the ballot, Block commented on Moderate candidate Chris Little’s impressive 14.4% showing in the race for the top law enforcement position in the state. “Chris Little was one of the more qualified candidates we’ve ever had, with impeccable credentials in a five way race.”

When asked about the Moderate candidate for the Lieutenant Governor’s office, current East Greenwich School Committee chairwoman Jean Ann Guliano, who made news this year over the hotly contested decision to outsource the district’s janitorial staff to an out of state staffing firm, he commented that she had gotten ill and was unable to file documents registering her candidacy with the state.