Dennis Mikolay: Ken Block Hopes to Represent Centrists in Rhode Island

Published on on May 23, 2013

By Dennis Mikolay

In a country as heavily partisan as the United States, it is very rare to find politicians whose allegiance lies outside the Democratic and Republican machines. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, elected as an independent, represents one of the very few exceptions to this rule; that said, not all voters, or even third party advocates for that matter, are particularly enthused with their gubernatorial incumbent. This sentiment has led Ken Block, a political activist and government watchdog, to launch his own gubernatorial campaign, a decision that was announced earlier this week.

Block, the founder of the Moderate Party, is a familiar face to voters. He first became politically active in 2007, when he recognized state taxes were spiraling out of control; it placed an incredible and unjust burden on residents, and nothing was being done to solve the predicament. The Republican Party, with its frequent promises of smaller, less intrusive government, perpetually failed to provide any substantial relief; a pre-occupation with divisive social issues and an inability to resonate with centrist or liberal voters bogged the GOP down, effectively turning Rhode Island into a one-party state.

“In Rhode Island, we have a particularly unique political situation,” said Block. “The legislature is eighty-eight percent one party—Democrat in this case—and it has been this way for eighty years.”

Determined to promote fiscal responsibility in any way possible, Block joined like-minded activists in forming a third party, which successfully petitioned for ballot access by submitting over thirty-four thousand signatures from registered voters, anxious to see a true alternative.

“I realized what we didn’t have in Rhode Island was a place for fiscally responsible folks to come to that didn’t have a healthy dose of social conservative issues as well,” said Block, who became the party’s 2010 gubernatorial contender in an attempt to meet the mandatory five percent threshold that would enable the Moderates continued ballot access. On Election Day, he received six percent of the vote, something skeptics never saw coming; his lack of funds, name recognition, or campaign time assured an uphill battle, but the outcome of the election proved there was demand for a centrist candidate.

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