Block has been saying for months that he would only seek the office of governor if he saw a clear path to victory. That path for victory did not lie in the political party he’d spent the last half-decade building and advocating for. This does two things. First, for everyone who ever accused Block of being a Republican in sheep’s clothing, it confirms that their suspicions were reality. Second, it makes it appear that Block is less dedicated to his causes and more dedicated to himself. Switching affiliations from Moderate to Republican doesn’t further the causes Block has championed. It only furthers his own career.
Republicans should no doubt be both happy and annoyed about this latest shapeshifter in Rhode Island’s political landscape. They should be happy because it removes Block as their personal gadfly; GOP partisans have long suggested Block’s candidacy is what prevented a Gov. John Robitaille from being inaugurated in 2011. Now, come September 2014, Block will either be their standard-bearer or defeated. The smart money is on the latter.
But therein lies the problem. Until now, it seemed as though Cranston Mayor Allan Fung was going to have a easy waltz to the nomination, leaving him free to beat up on the Democratic candidates. Now he has a contested nomination. Resources that otherwise could’ve gone toward tamping down the Democratic nominee’s inherent advantage are now going to have to go to fending off Block’s challenge.
For the Moderate Party, this appears to be its death knell. It never existed much outside the persona of Ken Block. This is exactly what I wrote about in March of last year; that the Moderate Party has an issue of a lack of identity. Block has been very successful at garnering media attention. But that attention has never translated into much support for the Moderate Party. It’s not even clear if there are other Moderates beyond Block. It seems likely the Moderate Party will end its existence as a second most successful third party in modern Rhode Island politics; right behind the Cool Moose Party.
Whether Block will become the new Robert Healey is anyone’s guess.