The ghost of 38 Studios is haunting Rhode Island politicians who are trying to get reelected. Speaking to the Associated Press both incumbents trying to hold on to their respective public offices and challengers who want to take their places next year are saying that they are having to answer a lot of questions from voters about the $75 million loan guarantee given to Curt Schilling's 38 Studios by Rhode Island.
With cities on the verge of bankruptcy, high unemployment in the state, and record deficits, it's a question that voters want answered, but the answers from lawmakers and would-be lawmakers may just not be good enough for voters.
"If I don't bring it up, other people bring it up. Everyone is infuriated," said Mark Binder, an independent candidate in Providence challenging House Speaker Gordon Fox. "There's this game going on in Rhode Island right now called 'pass the blame on 38 Studios.'"
"Anytime the state is on the hook, anytime there's a failure, it is right to question it," said Fox, D-Providence. "The public has a right to question it and I question it myself."
Other lawmakers are dodging the issue altogether, saying that they never knew all the money that they voted for would be going to just one company.
"38 Studios was never mentioned when we voted," said Sen. Michael Pinga, D-West Warwick, who thinks the issue won't hurt his re-election chances. "I tell them (votes) that it was portrayed to us as $75 million that would help small businesses, not one business."
While many Rhode Island voters feel that the lawmakers involved in the deal should be sent packing, the reality is that many of those in the State Assembly that approved the measure will likely be re-elected and that attacks involving the failure of 38 Studios will mostly be deflected using the "we didn't know it was all going to one company" defense.
We'll continue to follow this story as it develops. The first indications of its impact will be when the state holds primaries next month, followed by the general election on November 6.