Mark Schwager, the Democratic candidate for state House District 30, has won the endorsement of the New Leaders Project, a Rhode Island group that espouses what it calls a "pro-growth" agenda.
"New Leaders is an effort to find pro-jobs, pro-growth candidates from all parties who can actually win and have leadership qualities," said a spokesman for the group who asked not to be identified. "Mark has shown he’s a proven vote getter.... He has a temperment and an ability to get things done."
"Their economic issues align pretty closely with mine," said Schwager, who served two terms on the EG Town Council before running for the Senate District 33 seat against Dawson Hodgson, who won that race. Schwager, a medical doctor, currently serves on the EG Fire District.
New Leaders Project is headed by EG School Committeeman Jack Sommer, who was not available for an interview. It endorsed its first round of candidates in 2010.
The group's decision to endorse Schwager and Joe Shekarchi of Warwick, both Democrats, has raised the ire of the state Republican Party, according to a story by RIPR's Ian Donnis.
Donnis quotes state GOP chair Mark Zaccaria as being puzzled over the decision to back Schwager over Giarrusso, noting that Giarrusso runs a jewelry company in Johnston.
According to the New Leaders spokesman, two years ago, the group endorsed Dawson Hodgson over Schwager in the state Senate Distric 33 race Hodgson went on to win.
"You can have two really good quality candidates in the same race," he said. "This is more about Mark and not about Anthony."
Giarrusso said via email the endorsement for Schwager was a disappointment.
"We’re always disappointed when the new perspectives and ideas we are bringing to this legislative race aren’t embraced by groups or individuals. This is particularly surprising here, since the Project’s agenda and ours are virtually identical," said Giarrusso.
"I was never contacted, interviewed, or asked for information of any kind, and this raises some question about how thorough this group really is."