|73rd Governor of Rhode Island|
January 7, 2003 – January 4, 2011
|Preceded by||Lincoln Almond|
|Succeeded by||Lincoln Chafee|
Donald Louis Carcieri
December 16, 1942
East Greenwich, Rhode Island, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Suzanne Carcieri (d. 2018)|
|Alma mater||Brown University|
Donald Louis Carcieri (// kər-CHEER-ee; Italian: [karˈtʃɛːri]; born December 16, 1942) is an American politician and corporate executive who served as the 73rd Governor of Rhode Island from January 2003 to January 2011. Carcieri has worked as a manufacturing company executive, aid relief worker, bank executive, and teacher. As of 2021, he is the last Republican to have served as Governor of Rhode Island.
Carcieri was born and raised in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, the son of Marguerite E. (née Anderson) and Nicola J. Carcieri, a football and basketball coach at East Greenwich High School. His father was Italian American and his mother Swedish American. Carcieri played baseball, basketball, and football while in high school and received a college scholarship. He graduated from Brown University with a degree in International Relations. Carcieri started his career as a high school math teacher, working in Newport, Rhode Island and Concord, Massachusetts. He later became a banker and businessman, working his way up the ranks to become an executive vice president at Old Stone Bank.
In 1981, Carcieri and his family moved to Kingston, Jamaica, where he worked for Catholic Relief Services. Two years later, he returned to Rhode Island and became an executive at the Cookson Group. He eventually became Joint Managing Director for Cookson and CEO of the company's Cookson America subsidiary. At the request of Carcieri, Cookson established their US headquarters in an unused building in downtown Providence. As of 2006 he had 4 children and 13 grandchildren.
He ran for Governor of Rhode Island in 2002. In the Republican primary election, he defeated James Bennett, who had won the endorsement of the state Republican Party. He went on to defeat Democrat Myrth York, 55% to 45% in the general election.
Station night club fire
On February 20, 2003, The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, was engulfed in a catastrophic fire which claimed 100 lives. The fire, which was one of the worst such tragedies in American history, was widely covered by the national press, which gave Carcieri's public statements on the event nationwide coverage. Eventually the Governor declared a moratorium on pyrotechnics for crowds under 300 people.
Conflicts with the legislature
In 2005, both houses of the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana. Carcieri vetoed the bill, but the legislature overrode Carcieri by a large margin. Carcieri and the Democratic-dominated General Assembly have been at odds on a number of issues: enacting separation of powers, the treatment of state workers, and whether children of illegal immigrants should have access to the state childcare health care plan. Carcieri often warned against increasing the size of the state's welfare programs as unaffordable and unsustainable and that the state suffers economically from a history of corruption. Carcieri has had a history of confrontations with the heavily Democratic state legislature, community activists, and organized labor.
Carcieri won re-election in 2006. Rhode Island is one of 19 states that elects its governor and lieutenant governor separately rather than on a single party ticket; Carcieri faced his own Lieutenant Governor, Democrat Charles J. Fogarty, who was prevented, by term limits, from running again for the Lieutenant Governor position.
One of the most controversial events of Carcieri's governorship occurred on December 13, 2007 when the state of Rhode Island experienced a storm which dumped about 10-12 inches of snow on the state at the time of the evening commute. It became known as the "December Debacle." On that day, Carcieri was in the Middle East and could not be contacted until the storm was over. As a result of the timing of the storm and of conflicts between various State agencies about who was responsible for emergency management during Carcieri's absence, there was inadequate snow clearance on major highways, causing gridlock long into the night and stranding several buses of schoolchildren in snowbanks for a number of hours. Widely criticized for blocking the Lieutenant Governor from taking charge in his absence, Carcieri admitted that his administration did "a poor job of communications" during the storm. However, he refused to answer questions concerning who would be in charge of the state in the event of his absence. Eventually a judge required Carcieri to release documents indicating his orders on the chain of command in such situations.
On March 27, 2008, Carcieri signed an Executive Order requiring state agencies and vendors to verify the legal status of all employees and directing the Rhode Island State Police and the Department of Corrections to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ensure federal immigration laws are enforced.
Stance on LGBT issues
In November 2009, Carcieri vetoed H 5294 which, if enacted, would allow domestic partners to oversee and care for a same-sex partner's funeral arrangements. The bill's impetus was motivated by an event when the State refused to release the body of a man to his 17 year same-sex partner. In his veto message, Carcieri made the following statement: "This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue."
2009 furlough controversy
In the fiscal year 2010, the state of Rhode Island was facing a budget shortfall of $528 million. In an effort to shed $67.8 million, Carcieri imposed 12 furlough days. The first unpaid day was to occur on Friday, September 5, 2009. The unions representing state workers were able to, in the 11th hour, have a restraining order issued by Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg with a full court hearing on the matter to occur on September 12. Almost immediately Carcieri issued a press release noting he now has no other option but layoffs. He further went on to say "It should greatly disturb every state employee and every Rhode Islander that labor leaders are willing to sacrifice people’s jobs so they can maintain their stranglehold on the citizens of this state."
|Republican||Donald Carcieri (Incumbent)||197,013||50.9||-3.9|
|Democratic||Charles J. Fogarty||189,099||48.9|
- Goodman, Josh (December 12, 2006). "Not a Hussein in the Bunch". Governing. Archived from the original on July 29, 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
- RI Gov.: Out of the Spotlight, Fogarty Threatening Carcieri Archived 2006-10-27 at the Wayback Machine Lauren Phillips, CQ Politics, July 5, 2006
- "Rhode Island news | projo.com | The Providence Journal". projo.com. 2007-03-08. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- "Nicola J. Carcieri, 79; named top schoolboy coach in 1972". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1997-12-03. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- "M. Charles Bakst | projo.com | The Providence Journal". projo.com. 2006-01-29. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Journal-Bulletin, S. ROBERT CHIAPPINELLI (1997-12-12). "Nicola Carcieri, 1918-1997 Farewell to an iron man *The line of mourners stretches 100 feet outside the Hill Funeral Home as more than a thousand people pay tribute to the former East Greenwich High coach and teacher, town recreation director and fisherman". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Governor Donald L. Carcieri Archived August 19, 2006, at the Wayback MachineState of Rhode Island Office of the Governor
- "Fung moves closer to capturing Republican governor endorsement". Rhode Island Public Radio. 2014-06-20.
- R.I. MS Patient Applies to Use Marijuana Fox News with AP, April 5, 2006
- Carcieri must release documents on chain of command Archived September 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Providence Journal online 3/3/09. Retrieved June 25, 2009.
- Carcieri: 'Poor job of communications' during snowstorm Archived September 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Providence Journal online, 12/17/08. Retrieved June 25, 2009.
- Complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union vs. Governor Carcieri Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- RI Governor Joins Anti-Gay Group Carlos Santoscoy, April 8, 2009
- Katherine GreggJournal State House Bureau (2009-11-11). "Carcieri vetoes bill allowing partners to plan funerals | Rhode Island news | projo.com | The Providence Journal". projo.com. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Segal, David (January 4, 2010). "Rhode Island to Buck National Organization for Marriage, Override Veto of Domestic Partner Death Rights". Huffington Post. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
- News staff. "Carcieri signs state budget - Projo Politics Blog". Politicsblog.projo.com. Archived from the original on 2009-09-21. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Gregg, Katherine (2009-09-04). "Carcieri calls for 1,000 layoffs | Rhode Island news | projo.com | The Providence Journal". projo.com. Retrieved 2010-04-07.