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Q+A: Moderate Party Candidate Ken Block

Ken Block, Moderate Party candidate for governor, spoke with The Herald before Thursday's gubernatorial debate.

The Herald: Where would you situate yourself on the ideological spectrum?

Ken Block: I'm a centrist. I've grown very frustrated with national politics in the US. I've always found myself voting for the lesser of two evils. But the majority of Rhode Islanders are centrists. They care about jobs, they care about prosperity. And in Rhode Island we have never gotten this in the past 20 years. We get self-interested politicians, corrupt politicians. I'm all about centrism. Let's figure out how to fix our economy, let's make sure our kids get a quality education.

Brown students tend to be liberal. How do you appeal to them?

I'm not going to pander to anybody. … My appeal to classic liberal thought is that I want to help fund all the social programs but I can't do it as governor until we fix our economy and turn it around. Because you have to pay for it somehow, and we're already one of the highest tax states in the nation. If we want to be competitive, we cannot do that and raise taxes at the same time.

The economy is a crucial factor in the election. But the Brown student body has other issues of concern too. How are you addressing them?

That's a tough question about someone who is here temporarily. What I can tell you is that I don't support the idea of taxing any of our college students. I think that's a backwards way of looking at our colleges and universities. A lot of people who are here at Brown are going to end up loving Rhode Island. And if there were jobs and financial stability here, I believe they would choose to stay here and make a life.

What differentiates you from the other candidates?

I am the only candidate who is talking about specific solutions to the problems we have. I am not running as an ideologue. I am not running based on the stature and last name of my family. I'm running for a very specific reason: because our collective politicians have let us down. I'm not engaged in mudslinging. I'm out there every day, proposing solid solutions to our state's problems.

Do you consider yourself a pragmatist?

I'm absolutely a pragmatist.

Do you see a conflict between your self-proclaimed pragmatism and the possibility that you may play the role of spoiler in this race?

I draw from everybody. Especially given the way that this race is unraveling at this point, given the millions of dollars already spent by Caprio and Chafee, given the campaigning, neither of them has broken through 30 percent support. As I walk around the state, voters express great frustration with both Caprio and Chafee. They're engaged in a mudslinging fest and they don't offer substantive solutions to the problems we have. People aren't buying what they're selling. They're not gathering the undecided. A third of Rhode Islanders haven't made up their minds. My job is to stay steady, continue to talk about smart policy, real answers to the problems and highlight the fact that all the other candidates decline to give you specific answers to our problems. As the race gets uglier, I'm going to rise up.

What do you predict the election results will be?

It's ridiculously hard to predict.

What would you consider a good result?

Winning.

Nothing less?

Showing well is always crucial. We have to get at least 5 percent to keep the party alive, based on state law. I'm not worried about that at all. For me, it's important to run an upright race and leave the dirty politics to others.

What will you do if you fail to receive 5 percent of the vote?

I have no idea. I haven't thought about it. I don't see that as a high probability outcome at this point. If it did, the number of options is relatively small: do nothing, which I don't think I would do. Go back and re-qualify the party by collecting signatures. If I don't win, diving back in and paying attention to my business is the primary short term focus.




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