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Clock ticks for candidates considering campaigns

Restricted by law from keeping job and pursuing U.S. Senate, Raymond McKay files injunction

Two more state officials took steps toward forming campaigns in anticipation of the 2014 election season. Rep. Ray Hull, D-Providence, announced Tuesday he is exploring a run for Providence mayor, potentially joining a crowded race for the Sept. 9 Democratic mayoral primary. Raymond McKay, network and telecommunications administrator for the city of Warwick and president of the Rhode Island Republican Assembly, a conservative advocacy group, had planned to launch his campaign for U.S. Senate Tuesday but was forced to postpone the announcement due to a Warwick law barring certain city employees from running for office.

In a news release Tuesday, Hull cited his experiences as a single father, lifelong Providence resident and longtime law enforcement official as part of a crucial “skill set” required for the mayoral position.

“My years serving the people of District six have been incredibly rewarding,” Hull said, according to the release. “I think their support has made me feel ready to consider a mayoral run.”

Hull also pointed to the specific challenges he has faced representing a district encompassing “the solid, white middle class from Mount Pleasant and Fruit Hill, as well as the minority populations from the neighborhoods of Manton,” he said in the release. “That kind of diversity requires flexibility and perspective, and I’ll bring that to City Hall.”

Hull said his campaign is still in “the discussion stage” of his potential decision to join the mayoral race, according to the release.

Hull would join Democratic mayoral candidates City Council President Michael Solomon, former Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza, lobbyist Brett Smiley, businessman Lorne Adrain and perennial mayoral candidate Chris Young, who have all already formally announced their campaigns. The winner of the primary will likely face Republican Daniel Harrop in November’s general election.

If elected, Hull would become Providence’s first black mayor.

“I have the highest regard for the position of mayor of my city,” Hull said in the release. “I love Providence, and I believe great things can happen here in the next few years.”

McKay had already announced plans to launch a  campaign against Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. Tuesday morning at the Elks Lodge in West Greenwich when Warwick Personnel Director Jane Jordan informed him that a campaign announcement would be taken as a resignation from his current position, the Providence Journal reported.

Warwick city ordinance 48-107 prohibits city employees working in “classified” posts from seeking public election. McKay’s position as network and telecommunications administrator falls under this stipulation.

McKay claims the ordinance is unconstitutional and is seeking an injunction to prevent the city of Warwick from firing him upon the launch of his campaign, ABC News reported.  He also filed a temporary restraining order Monday to fend off enforcement of the ordinance, the ProJo reported.

McKay’s complaint holds that the law has a “chilling effect on free speech” and violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by preventing city workers in “classified” positions from running for office, while permitting other Warwick employees from campaigning.

“This should not be a partisan issue, this is a constitutional issue. I believe I have a right to run for office without the threat of termination or retaliation,” McKay said.

A court hearing for McKay’s injunction against the city has been tentatively scheduled for Friday morning, and McKay said the official launch of his campaign will likely be March 25, the ProJo reported.

McKay faces an uphill battle against Reed, who is often listed as one of the state’s most popular politicians.


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