By JOHN HOWELL
The grill was on low, but the camaraderie was on high burner Saturday as Reynaldo Almonte and Latino Public Radio based in Cranston maintained the tradition of political barbecues …
By JOHN HOWELL
The grill was on low, but the camaraderie was on high burner Saturday as Reynaldo Almonte and Latino Public Radio based in Cranston maintained the tradition of political barbecues on election years. The barbecue labeled “Meet Rhode Island ‘s 2022 Candidates” was hosted by Steve Klamkin WPRO-AM, news reporter and anchor, who following a tight schedule that extended into the evening hours conducted 5-minute interviews of the candidates.
As Brett Smiley, Providence mayoral candidate and the first to be interviewed, commented Klamkin gave him a “light grilling” starting off with the question, “how goes the campaign?” Smiley said he was prepared for some fastballs, which Klamkin didn’t pitch and the five minutes seemed to be over in no time.
That was reassuring to Secretary of State Democratic candidate Gregg Amore, who so far is the only candidate seeking a statewide seat not to have either a party primary of general election opponent. Amore breezed through his interview as did Joy Fox, one of six candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the Second Congressional District where incumbent James Langevin is not seeking reelection after having held the seat for 21 years.
The interviews were broadcast live on LPR as well as livestreamed on lprnews.org and lprnoticias.com. What those watching the livestream didn’t get to see, since the camera was fixed on Klamkin and the candidate being interviewed was the backyard setting and the on-going barbecue.
“We’re Latino, we can’t have people over without food,” said Cynthea Cortez Lefevre who greeted candidates and their workers by their first names. She confessed even though a New Bedford resident, she is a devote follower of Rhode Island politics. Lefevre grabbed photos on her phone of the candidates and visitors between passing a tray of empanadillas and urging them to visit a spread that included pasta salad, rice and steak and ribs hot from the grill tended by her husband and grill master Jason Lefevre.
The candidates, many of whom lingered to enjoy the Almonte hospitality and talk about their campaigns, gathered around a high table or sat on patio furniture. Candidates participating included those for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, General Treasurer and Attorney General, Congress District 1 & 2 and mayoral candidates for Providence and Pawtucket.
Reynaldo Almonte has run the political barbecues for as long as former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung can remember. Fung, Republican candidate for the Second Congressional District, and his wife Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung made a bee-line for the food after a full day of being on the campaign trail. Fung was relieved to get a break shaking hands and an opportunity to devour a seasoned strip steak cut into bite-sized morsels. Once finished, he was ready to join Klamkin in the hot seat, albeit not that hot to be classified as a grilling.
Almonte, who is a regular at press conferences and actively covers Rhode Island news for the station, spent most of his time manning the technical aspects of the production behind a panel of wires, dials and controls. Two more political barbecues are planned for the election year, one in August and another in October. Dates had not been finalized as of Saturday.
No question, however, the candidates will be back.