Richard Morrison has been a political unknown, or had been in Bristol up until the primary in September when he defeated Democrat incumbent Doug Gablinske.
There was significant backlash from shortsighted locals and unions for Gablinske’s support of Rhode Island’s funding formula. Again, Rhode Island was the LAST state to sign into law a funding formula. As a result of this aggressive move to improve Rhode Island’s 26th best public education system the federal government awarded Rhode Island millions for education for winning the “Race to the Top.” Morrison’s lone talking point was that ‘Bristol lost $9 million.’ Yes, that’s it. That’s all he ran on. That, and union machines that were afraid of Gablinske’s stance questioning the economically crippling pension system in Rhode Island. As an interesting aside, silly facts, the same sort of people that want to complain about government waste are complaining about money being taking away from a Bristol education system. The fact of the matter is Bristol spends $5,000 per pupil more than its neighbor to the north Barrington and yet Barrington has higher achievement level than students in Bristol. So unfortunately for Morrison and logic itself it is obvious throwing money at a school system is absolutely not the solution to improving the quality of education. But do not allow me to place educational, economic, and social reality before the sound bite of ‘Bringing the $9 million back to Bristol.’
I have personally been able to come to know a lot of local and state politicians but one person who was tremendously inaccessible was Richard Morrison. He has taken the cavalier stance and we in Bristol will see how his haughty approach will work in Providence.
Fortunately for me he is not my representative. I can hold my head high reasonably confident in Ray Gallison.
Only a couple days prior to the election I was informed by Richard Morrison’s campaign that they would be using my candidate’s/boss’ name and likely for their handouts on election day. The message on the pamphlet was not approved by our campaign and was not the opinion of the candidate himself. The candidate never signed off on this pamphlet and expressed his concern that the flier should not be printed or distributed. This fell on deaf ears as Morrison and his minions did exactly what they wanted to do. His campaign pledged of “putting Bristol/Warren first” was both shortsighted and unquestionably dug into our campaign’s message of having a collaborative relationship at the State House.
For someone who is running for office you feel as though he may understand professional ethics. For someone who hopes to represent the people of Bristol and Warren you would think that he would show respect for fellow candidates in this area. All of this you would apparently think incorrectly.
This disingenuous and unapproved publication was only the tip of the iceberg.
I arrived at the Rockwell School on election day a little bit before eight in the morning to get out the vote for my candidate. I was greeted by a couple that was their campaigning for Richard Morrison. As always I try to find a common ground and treat everyone with a high level of respect. To be fair I was treated with respect while I was there. But local constituent and a mother of a local candidate arrived to campaign for her son. As she attempted to have a conversation with these two Morrison supporters and express what she called a concern about an encounter she had with Richard Morrison the male Morrison supporter said, ‘You know we are Morrison supporters I don’t want to hear it.’ Again this calls into question the kind of people that Richard Morrison surrounds himself with and who he is as a man and as a politician. When I am a candidate for office I welcome input from my constituents and hope that my supporters and aids would do the same. I would not want me, or my candidate, to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth. It’s possible this was just a rogue supporter acting a bit cranky in the morning. The more I get to know about Morrison and the Morrison campaign the more I realized it was the machine of Morrison.
Not too much later Richard Morrison arrived on scene with his own posse and began to greet his supporters. He made little effort to engage any of the other people at the polling station. He proceeded to have a conversation with these two supporters at the Rockwell School in which they discussed the distance we were from the school doors and that the local board of elections had told Morrison’s supporters that they needed to move back. To be fair to Morrison’s supporters the Board of Elections workers did overestimate the length and Morrison’s people were in fact outside the 50 foot boundary. However the rhetoric and language I heard and saw for Morrison what he was told the supporters was unsettling. It was no way that a candidate or politician should behave, let alone on election day. As he was responding to his supporters about the Board of Elections and their requests for Morrison’s people to move back he said, and I quote, “Fuck them.” As if that wasn’t enough he proceeded to say that everyone on the Town Council were bunch of ‘morons’ and needed to be kicked out of office.
A couple hours later I arrived at Benjamin Church Manor where I was greeted by individuals campaigning for other local candidates and I also noticed a gentleman campaigning for Richard Morrison. EastBayRI and WPRO all were on scene and I then realized that the conversation had turned to Richard Morrison being hospitalized. Apparently he had fallen at Benjamin Church Manor and bumped his head. It happens, we all have moments of clumsiness. In fact, I bumped my shoulder on the door frame on the way to my computer to write this. I listened to Morrison’s man on the ground tell a story of heroism and tragedy for the microphones. It was a story about a man who fell on a sidewalk coming out of voting and that Richard saw him fall and as Richard rushed over to help the man not Richard himself fell victim of this vicious cement and thus hurt himself trying to help this voter. What a great guy.
After the interviews subside and I spoke to someone who witnessed what happened and he said that Richard Morrison was walking when he tripped. That Richard Morrison was not, “rushing to help a voter.” In fact the person I spoke to told me he was confident that Richard Morrison had not even seen the person fall that he purportedly was going to help when he fell. Of course EastBayRI got their soundbites from Morrison’s man on the ground at Benjamin Church Manor and they were satisfied with one source. That’s good journalism. That’s why newspapers are selling like hot cakes.
After the microphones disappeared Morrison’s man proceeded to brag out about his spin job. Confidently addressing some of the fellow campaigners he said that in some sort of twisted way this may work out for Richard. That the story told the WPRO and EastBayRI reporters could actually be a positive boon for Richard. And that’s the way he was able to spin the incident could work as a huge positive for Richard Morrison to be portrayed as a hero but also as a victim of his own heroic efforts.
Later in the day I saw Richard Morrison very cozy with a very nice man and candidate, the Republican Tom Carroll. The two of them were discussing the race as if no one could hear and that I am without any capability of hearing. Morrison frankly said to Tom Carroll, ‘I be thrilled if I won, and I’d be thrilled if you won but I’d be pissed if Doug wins.’ For a man that supposedly is a Democrat and likely garnered much of his support from the fact that he is a Democrat that certainly is not a good posture to take on election day.
Privately it is possible Richard Morrison is a kind and thoughtful man. But, the man, the machine, and the Morrison I got to know was exactly the crass and unprofessional politician I had been warned he was. I am never one to pass judgment on someone personally until I actually can inform myself and gauge the personality. What I saw in the 72 hours from Halloween through election made me fearful for the lack of progress Bristol/Warren and Rhode Island can make with a man like this in the General Assembly.