Center to Sponsor GA Candidate Debates. Kate Nagle to Moderate. Portsmouth Democrat Controversy?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21, 2016
Center to Sponsor Two Debates in Partnership with Local Groups

Kate Nagle from to be moderator.
Portsmouth Democrats create controversy so as to not participate?
Other local groups invited to partner with the Center.

Providence, RI — The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity announced today that it has reached an arrangement with a local group to sponsor two East Bay General Assembly candidate debates on October 12 in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Concerned Citizens (PCC), which for many years has successfully conducted similar debates, has invited the candidates for Senate District 11 and House District 72 to participate in the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm event, which will be held at the Portsmouth Council Chamber on 2200 East Main Road. The moderator for the two debates will be Kate Nagle, political reporter and editor for

Incumbent Senator John Pagliarini (Republican) from District 11 has accepted the invitation, while his challenger, James Seveney (Democrat) has not yet responded.

Vying for the open House District 72 seat, are Ken Mendonca (Republican) who has accepted, and former Representative Linda Finn (Democrat), who also has not yet responded.

As sponsor of the debate, the Center’s role is largely promotional: to raise state and local awareness and to potentially host a post-debate video of the event. The Center has also collaborated with the PCC to develop up to four questions of statewide interest that will be asked of each candidate. All other operations and logistics are the responsibility of the local group, in the PCC case, with all other questions to come from the audience.

Garnering a lead, front page story in today’s Newport Daily News, a likely reason for the lack of response from the two

Democrat candidates is a September 18 open letter from Leonard Katzman, Chair of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee. In the letter, Mr. Katzman called into question the “legitimacy” of the candidate forums and the “fairness” of the PCC. Katzman also cast aspersions on the Center by falsely claiming Koch-brother backing and that the Center’s agenda is “antithetical to Democratic Party principles.”

“Our Center has earned the reputation as a nonpartisan and strong advocate for taxpayers: I cannot imagine that Mr. Katzman believes that looking out for taxpayers goes against his Democrat party principles. After all isn’t a debate supposed to be about discussing varying views of government? What are he and his candidates afraid of,” questioned Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Further, his mindless attempt to impugn the credibility of our Center through a bogus ploy of guilt-by-association to certain non-donors … is completely false. I call on Mr. Katzman to retract that statement.”

Thanks to the generosity of some of its donors, the Center has the financial capacity to sponsor additional debates. Local, nonpartisan groups interested in conducting their own debates should send an email to

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