By Katherine Gregg
Journal State House Bureau
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Former state police Supt. Brendan Doherty has launched his Republican campaign for the U.S. House seat held by first-term Democrat David N. Cicilline with $50,000 of his own money, according to a spokesman.
He has no paid staff yet. But he has lined up former Gov. Donald L. Carcieri's campaign finance chief Anthony Bucci, the owner of Bucci Insurance, as the head of his own fundraising effort, and lawyer Victoria Almeida as his campaign treasurer, according to his spokesman Dante Bellini.
Almeida has held many prominent positions over the years, including past president of the Rhode Island Bar Association, vice chairwoman of the Rhode Island Parole Board for 20 years, current chairwoman of the Rhode Island Health Services Council and "first woman in Rhode Island history appointed executive counsel to a governor," -- more specifically, former Democratic Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy.
In a brief interview on Friday, Almeida -- who also helped raise money for independent Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee -- said her "favorite president'' is still Democrat John F. Kennedy, but she views Doherty as "somebody I look up to.''
Former state GOP Chairman Giovanni Cicione cites Almeida's prominent role in Doherty's campaign as evidence that the state's former top cop appeals to "a lot of people from all around the Republican spectrum, and the non-Republican spectrum ... Chafee folks, former Carcieri folks .... all there singing 'Kumbaya' for Brendan."
Calling Almeida the most left-leaning of his friends, Cicione said: "Vicky and me, side by side, gives you the full spectrum."
For the record, Doherty is registered as a Republican in his hometown of Cumberland, and voted in the 2008 Republican presidential primary. But he also voted in the September 2006 and September 2008 Democratic primaries, according to town records. Doherty did not respond to inquiries Friday about his voting history.
But Doherty told the media at his campaign kick-off that former Democratic Boston mayor and ambassador to the Vatican, Ray Flynn, is a high-profile Democrat supporting his candidacy. Doherty said he and Flynn are long-time friends.
But lest there be any doubt about whom Cicione would back in a potential 2012 GOP primary contest between Doherty and the party's 2010 nominee John Loughlin II, Cicione said he is backing Doherty. Asked why, he said Loughlin had "a good shot" at the seat in the last cycle, but he believes "the party is going to look for somebody who has a different approach who can do a little better in a more challenging election cycle."
John Robitaille, the GOP nominee for governor in 2010, was also on hand for Doherty's announcement.
But when asked afterward whom he would back in a Doherty-Loughlin primary contest, he demurred, saying: "Both John Loughlin and Brendan Doherty are good men, solid Republicans and personal friends of mine. I recently attended a send-off event for John to wish him well while in Iraq. I also attended Brendan's campaign kickoff event."
But, "it's way too early for public endorsements," Robitaille said. "Both candidates have a lot of work to do and must first prove they can raise a significant amount money, build an organization and win in November of 2012."
"As far as my plans go, I'll have something concrete to talk about in the coming weeks,'' said Robitaille, adding: "The coming announcement is not a political, but rather a private-sector venture."