McKee shows another side of himself

Posted 10/6/22

My parents always taught us to be gracious in victory as well as in defeat. One event that should be a source of gratitude to others and respect for a vanguished opponent is a stunning victory in a …

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McKee shows another side of himself


My parents always taught us to be gracious in victory as well as in defeat. One event that should be a source of gratitude to others and respect for a vanguished opponent is a stunning victory in a close election. Yet Gov. Dan McKee showed an amazing lack of grace when candidate Helena Foulkes tried to call him to concede the election.

Background: In her run for governor, Foulkes actually won the “live election” with votes cast at the poll on election day, losing on absentee ballots. On election night a reporter tweeted that incumbent Dan McKee was going to give his victory speech at 11 p.m. A time-honored protocol is for the losing candidate to call the winner and concede so that the winner can have the full recognition of victory when he reports the concession, which also means that no challenge to the election will be mounted.

At 10:40 p.m., Helena Foulkes made the call. A top aide, Eva-Marie Mancuso, informed McKee that Helena was on the phone. Annoyed, he pontificated, “No, that’s not going to happe.” The aide might not have heard his refusal, since it appeared that she was handing him the phone. “Eva, that’s not going to happen. Eva, hang up on them,” he reiterated with a peremptory wave of his hand. He repeated with the same gesture, “Hang up on them.”

Later, when asked about his dismissal of her call, he made matters worse by saying words to the effect that if you had a half of brain, you would not have made the call when he was on the platform. Later, he explained without evidence that she knew he had mounted the stage 20 minutes earlier than reported, a reality she refuted.

To imply that candidate like Helena Foulkes, who successfully ran the Number 4 company in the Fortune 500 with revenues of approximately 290 BILLION dollars and who was president of the Harvard University Board of Overseers had “half a brain” was probably an undertaking that a rocket scientist wouldn’t emote. It was reminiscent of his rocky relationship with Rhodes scholar, former Gov. Gina Raimondo, leaving one to wonder whether smart women threaten the governor.

It didn’t take him long to demean the very intelligent entrepreneur Ashley Kalus, Republican candidate for governor in the election. He called her a “seagull manager”… crapping over people,” a line he, no doubt, guffawed about with the boys in the back room. She resisted the temptation to call him another species for his chauvinistic remark.

Any candidate’s position on issues is fair game for commentary; personal slurs are not. Nor is using your power over an agency. Earlier in the campaign season it was pretty widely circulated that Ms. Kalus might run for governor as a Republican. Shortly thereafter, in an unprecedented move and amid an embargo on any other information about COVID service providers, Gov. McKee’s department of health announced it had 100 complaints about the Kalus sites. Missing from the “information” was the context that her company had administered over 426,000 tests and 36,000 injections at that time, which represented 0.000216 percentage of complaints. Media requests regarding the compilation of all site providers’ complaints were rebuffed.

Time will tell if McKee resorts to more insults or will stick with the issues.

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

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