Republican Raymond T. McKay says time could spell the difference in his expected campaign to win the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Jack Reed.
On Tuesday, McKay experienced a setback – and a delay – when U.S. District Court Judge John McConnell declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have enabled him to move forward with his campaign without jeopardizing his job as a network and telecommunications administrator for the City of Warwick. McKay is a classified city employee and therefore subject to a 1970s ordinance barring classified employees from running for elective office.
McKay plans to be back in court on Monday before Judge Mary Lisi, his legal counsel and the city’s legal counsel, to set the schedule for a full court hearing. But that is taking time and, in McKay’s opinion, limiting his ability to wage a successful campaign.
“Time is money, and in a campaign it’s big money,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Had the court issued a restraining order, McKay would have declared his candidacy and set in motion efforts to raise funds locally and nationally.
“I can’t take a dime right now,” he said.
In order to mount a campaign to make Reed “squirm and hurt,” McKay said he’s going to need $1.7 million. He believes raising the money is possible if he’s got the time.
“If we’re up and running by early May, we have a snowball’s chance – it’s still doable,” he said.
Following Tuesday’s court action, McKay said in a statement: “We are disappointed with the turn of events in court. We believe state law supports our position and had hoped Rhode Island decisions would have been given more emphasis. The fact that the city has a double standard for its own employees should be a concern when looking at my case.”
Under city law, unclassified employees such as political employees, police officers, firefighters and teachers are not prohibited from seeking office. He pointed to former Warwick fire captain and state Rep. Peter Ginaitt. He asked yesterday how it was acceptable for Ginaitt to run for office while working for the city and not him.
“I believe the Constitution does guarantee the fundamental right of any American to run for office without threat of termination or retaliation,” he said.
While he is not a declared candidate, McKay said he plans a “Get to Know Ray” event at his home at 2 p.m. Sunday, during which people will have the chance to meet and talk with him.
“It’s an open house for people to come by and say hi,” he said, stressing that it won’t be a fundraiser. The McKay home is at 19 Baker’s Creek Road in Warwick.
McKay said he’s spent a considerable amount of his own funds to take his fight this far. He didn’t disclose the amount, but added, “My wife doesn’t look at me very nicely at this point.”