Talking Politics

Schneider's anti-Trump stance shows she's a rare breed in U.S. politics

By Ian Donnis
Posted 1/16/24

STORY OF THE WEEK: Claudin Schneider is a rare breed in American politics: a Republican and former Rhode Island congresswoman who is doing everything in her power to stop Donald Trump from returning …

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Talking Politics

Schneider's anti-Trump stance shows she's a rare breed in U.S. politics


STORY OF THE WEEK: Claudin Schneider is a rare breed in American politics: a Republican and former Rhode Island congresswoman who is doing everything in her power to stop Donald Trump from returning to the White House. While Rhode Island was historically associated with such GOP moderates as John Chafee, local elected Republicans who are critical of Trump are few and far between.

Schneider, 76, who relocated years ago to Colorado, is one of six plaintiffs in the case that knocked Trump off the ballot in the Rocky Mountain State. While using a Civil War-era measure to exclude a presidential candidate remains untested, Schneider sees the issue in black and white. “Well, the primary elements that were necessary to prove in this case were that number one, there was an insurrection in fact,” she said during a Political Roundtable interview last week, “and number two, that Donald Trump participated in that insurrection, and number three, he did so while he was an officer of the United States government.”

Whether the decision by Colorado’s top court stands will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Schneider offered this response to the idea that voters should be the ones deciding Trump’s future and that squelching that choice is undemocratic: “I have to chuckle at that because there’s nothing more undemocratic than failing to enforce the United States Constitution, which is the bedrock of our democracy ... the evidence that Joe Biden had won [in 2020] was overwhelming and the voters chose Joe Biden, but Trump chose to deny that reality and he’s been trying to change the facts and that’s why he’s being charged at this moment in time.”

Schneider served five terms after first winning election in 1980, and she remains the only woman elected to Congress from Rhode Island. While she’s supported a series of Democratic presidential candidates, Schneider said she is still a Republican, even if the current GOP (and such stances as supporting cutting military aid to Ukraine) make it unrecognizable to her from the party she knew during the Reagan era of the ’80s.



TOUGH CLIMATE: The big rain storm that hit Rhode Island last week is just the latest example of how a changing climate is taking its toll on infrastructure around the state. Crumbling roads, flooded basements and swamped intersections are becoming more common, and 2023 was the hottest year on record. While the question of when to retreat from the sea has been playing out for a while in local coastal communities, larger and more frequent deluges point to a broader problem. This poses a significant challenge for elected officials in Rhode Island and elsewhere. And it will raise the profile of people like Kimberly Korioth, who was appointed by Gov. McKee in December as the state’s new chief resilience officer, a post reestablished by McKee in May 2023.


THE BENCH: After months of speculation about who would get the nod for Judge William E. Smith’s pending vacancy on U.S. District Court in Providence, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse this week recommended state District Court Judge Melissa DuBose, and President Biden nominated her for the post a day later. All this marks a fast rise for DuBose, who was nominated as a state judge by then-governor Gina Raimondo as she prioritized bringing more racial and gender diversity to the bench toward the end of her tenure. DuBose seems to epitomize the American dream – she grew up poor in Mount Hope and then worked as a teacher before deciding to pursue a legal career. If confirmed by the Senate, she will become the first Black and LGBT judge on the U.S. District Court in Providence.


COMPLAINT DISMISSED: The state Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint filed by RI GOP Chairman Joe Powers against House Speaker Joe Shekarchi. The complaint alleged Shekarchi engaged in a conflict of interest that would have benefited a legal client, Gerald Zarrella, by supporting a bill that would have allowed weddings for a fee on large farms.

The commission found that Shekarchi and Zarrella did not have a business relationship at the time of a 2017 vote (on a bill that died in the Senate). Even if they did have a business relationship, the commission found that it was unlikely Shekarchi would have been conflicted since the legislation would have affected a large number of farms.


REPUBLICAN THUNDER: As expected, state Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung (R-Cranston) is pursuing a run for the mayoral position formerly held by her husband, Allan Fung, with a campaign announcement set for Jan. 30. The GOP primary between Fenton-Fung and current Mayor Ken Hopkins will be one of the marquee political races in Rhode Island this year. Fenton-Fung scored a noteworthy victory in 2020 by ousting state Rep. Nicholas Mattiello (D-Cranston), who had served as speaker since the fall of Gordon Fox in 2014. If she wins this time around, City Hall could one day serve as a launching pad for a run for higher office.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Jenni Azanero Furtado this week unveiled her campaign for the seat currently held by state Rep. Brianna Henries (D-East Providence), who was first elected amid a wave of RI Political Cooperative candidates in 2020. Furtado won election that year to the EP School Committee and she has served as chair since 2022. A lawyer with Langlois, Wilkins, Furtado & Metcalf, she added this in a statement: “As State Representative, Ms. Furtado will continue to fight for greater state funding for education, affordable housing, and aid for small businesses. Ms. Furtado will also work with other city and state officials to make sure the infrastructure issues that occurred on the Washington bridge are rectified, and substantive reforms are made at RIDOT so a future incident can never happen again.”

Asked if she plans to seek re-election, Henries told me via email, “My focus is and always has been on advocating for my district and the people of Rhode Island. Legislative session just began, and I’m working overtime on bills that will create more affordable housing, livable wages, and social equity. I firmly believe I’m the best person for this job, and looking at the overwhelming election results in 2020 and 2022, District 64 agrees. But anyone is allowed to run, and I’m excited to learn more about what issues Jennie wants to see addressed for our community once we pivot to election season in June!”


BADA BING!: “The Sopranos” premiered on HBO 25 years ago this week, ushering in a new age of high-quality entertainment on the small screen and casting a long shadow. The timing of the anniversary is worth noting since it came just a few months before the FBI raided City Hall and Buddy Cianci’s Power Street home, raising the lid on the Plunder Dome investigation that would land Cianci in federal prison. Although Cianci was capable of thuggish behavior, he rejected an invitation to participate in a season premiere of “The Sopranos,” arguing that the show portrayed Italian-Americans in a poor light.


HOUSING: Speaking of strip joints, and amid Zillow’s prediction that Providence will be one of the nation’s hottest housing markets in 2024, the state Housing Department this week announced plans to build a “pallet shelter community” on vacant state-owned land on Victor Street, near the Foxy Lady. According to a statement, about 100 similar communities have been built around the U.S. Furthermore, “If approved, the pallet shelter community created using rapidly deployable units will be constructed and operated by House of Hope and named ECHO Village. The community will feature 45 individual, free standing one-room units, 70 square feet in size, screened windows, fire extinguishers, smoke/CO2 detector, electrical outlets, and heating and cooling units. Staffed 24/7, the shelter community will include four free standing office units to provide such services as onsite case management, housing application assistance, benefits application assistance, job training, and health related supports, including substance use recovery and mental health services.

“A free-standing community room, ADA approved combination bathroom/shower facilities and laundry room will also be offered. Substance use will be prohibited on site, with access to recovery services available for pallet occupants. The rapidly deployable units constructed by Pallet are an innovative rapid-response tool, creating temporary shelter units that are cost-effective and offer unsheltered individuals’ dignity, safety, and privacy as they transition toward permanent housing.”

BIRTHDAY: Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, who proved a good sport by helping U.S. Rep. Gabe Amo to celebrate his November victory, has generally kept a low profile since a disappointing finish in the CD1 primary last September. She’s staging a fundraiser on her 50th birthday, Feb. 13, at Wes’ Rib House in Olneyville.


POLI-MEDIA PEOPLE ON THE MOVE: Jon Duffy, a FOG (Friend of Gina) and longtime player in Rhode Island PR field, is transitioning to the role of CEO at Duffy & Shanley, while Annette Maggiacomo ascends to president ... The U.S. Small Business Administration has selected Catherine Marx as acting district director for RI ... Congratulations to photojournalist Justin White on 20 years at WPRI ... Topher Hamblett has gotten the nod as the new head of Save The Bay ... Thomas Caughlin, ex of the San Diego Loyal SC, will be comms director for Rhode Island FC.


TAKES OF THE WEEK – a mix of views from various Rhode Islanders


MATTHEW HEFFNER, lawyer, East Bay resident and community advocate: “Although RIDOT correctly decided to cancel the Bristol-Providence ferry contracts, we should not dismiss ferry service as a long-term public transportation option. I recently conducted a Facebook poll amongst Rhode Islanders who travel from Bristol to Providence for work, but haven’t taken the ferry. Despite our car-centric culture, only 22% cited the independence of a car as a reason for not taking the ferry. Out of the poll’s 67 respondents, 57% cited transportation in Providence as a reason for not taking the ferry. Seven percent of respondents tied their reluctance to the trip’s length; 2% cited a lack of a midday ferry as a reason; one respondent cited weather. If RIDOT can improve on-land travel logistics, meet Rhode Islanders’ scheduling requests and spend according to them, then permanent ferry service is possible. A ferry service running on clean energy would alleviate road traffic, reduce road accidents and fatalities, and help us meet our climate goals. If, and only if, successful, ferry service from RIPTA could then expand across different points on Narragansett Bay, such as in Warwick. Ferry service may neither be for everyone nor be a panacea for today’s needs. Yet, it could factor into meeting tomorrow’s needs if the state commits to this long-term vision.”


Consultant and former state Rep. LIANA CASSAR: “Like the state’s bridges, the RI care infrastructure is critical to the economic success of communities and families. When the Washington Bridge closure hit, the state clearly saw it as a problem to be addressed ASAP, bringing national-level expertise and scrutiny, because the closure impacted safety and quality of life, but especially because it impacted commerce. When it comes to the care economy – agencies providing direct care for Rhode Islanders with disabilities, care for children, and care for the elderly – the urgency and innovative stopgap measures to date have been Band-aid level infusions of cash, never adequate long-term public-private solutions because there is a lack of commitment to strategy, leadership and investment reflected in the state budget. Care jobs are the most dependable local jobs in our economy and undergird every sector.

“RI needs an entity that is an ’infrastructure solutions provider’ for the care economy – providing low-interest loans and revolving funds at a minimum – as the RI Infrastructure Bank bills itself, so our care agencies are sustainable, able to grow, and can stop functioning in perpetual scarcity. This year, the General Assembly and the general treasurer can plant the seeds to get this started.”



KICKER: To finish where we began this week, maybe Jerod Mayo will be what the Patriots need. And maybe – just maybe – the Sox and Cubs will square off in the World Series in 2031, per


Ian Donnis can be reached at

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