Dems angling to succeed Raimondo all back pension deal

The men vying to succeed Gina Raimondo as Rhode Island’s general treasurer are all supporting the proposed settlement she recently announced that would end unions’ legal challenge to the 2011 pension law.

The three Democrats running for treasurer are former Treasurer Frank Caprio, former Internal Auditor Ernie Almonte, and political newcomer Seth Magaziner. No Republican has entered the race so far.

Almonte spoke out Wednesday in a Providence Journal op-ed, describing the settlement as possibly “the best short-term option” while also criticizing how long lawmakers allowed the pension problem to fester.

“This is a worthwhile settlement because it achieves significant savings without costly litigation and uncertainty,” Almonte, who raised red flags about the pension problem as internal auditor, wrote. “But it also highlights the true cost of continuing to delay making difficult decisions that will shape our state’s future.”

Magaziner’s campaign manager, Evan England, offered muted support for the deal in a statement.

“Seth is pleased that both sides were able to reach an agreement that preserves most of the savings of the original reform while easing some of the burden on public employees and retirees,” England told WPRI.com.

“Seth is a strong advocate for increasing state aid to the cities and towns, which would help municipalities afford the cost of the settlement,” England continued. “Above all, Seth is frustrated at the decades of failed State House leadership that caused the pension crisis to occur in the first place, and pledges to bring a new type of leadership to the treasurer’s office.”

Caprio – who has criticized Raimondo for investing more than $1 billion of the state’s pension assets in high-fee hedge funds – backed the deal in a brief email sent by his spokeswoman, Patti Doyle.

“Frank is in favor of the litigation being resolved in a way both sides agree to,” Doyle told WPRI.com.

No public polls have been released in the Democratic primary for treasurer, but Almonte leads the pack in fundraising. As of Dec. 31, Almonte’s campaign had $216,860 on hand, while Caprio’s had $193,215 and Magaziner’s had $150,145. Former President Bill Clinton will raise money for Magaziner next month.

• Related: Taveras, Raimondo exchange harsh words over pensions (Feb. 25)

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