Why Paul Pence Is Running for Lieutenant Governor in Rhode Island

Paul Pence is an engineer who’s pivoting from fixing problems in business processes to fixing problems in Rhode Island. He’s convinced that lack of accountability for current state politicians for the last eighty years have left much to be desired in the state.

His first experience as a voter was what opened his eyes to the state of politics in the US. “When I went to the polls for the very first time, I was shocked to see a horribly imbalanced representation on the slates. We had one party controlling everything and the other party, almost not even there. They did not provide checks and balances. They didn’t hold the politicians accountable. There was no credible competition to keep things working right,” he recalled.

With his engineering training, he felt compelled to roll up his sleeves and do something about this. 

Soon after, Paul started to see other problems. He observed that schools that weren’t working nearly as well as he would have hoped. After doing some research, he found out that less than 2 percent of students were performing according to their grade level. He started noticing that the taxation laws in the state were abusive to small businesses and was incentivized towards big companies. As a result, it’s harder for small businesses to grow and thrive in Rhode Island. 

“So I’m an engineer—I look at what is the root cause. The root cause is that we really have let the career politicians decide for themselves what they should do and how they should do it. And we’re not standing up as citizens and addressing the problems. We’re not running for office,” he explained.

He decided 12 years ago to run for office and knocked on doors and started asking questions—to resounding objections. Everywhere he went, he heard no.

They said, “Nope, nope, you don’t have a career in politics to base this on. You don’t have money, you don’t have connections, you really need to not run for office.’”

He felt beaten down by this frosty reception. He sulked in a corner for a few days before he realized he needed to try a new approach. So he started pushing for people to run for office with the message, “If you run for office, I’ll run for office. You don’t have money, you don’t have connections, you don’t have a history, no problem. I don’t either. But I’m going to run for office.”

With this strategy, he managed to clinch the Republican nomination. However, he didn’t win that race because of his lack of money and connections.

This time around, Paul Pence is running in a primary for lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor is involved in interdepartmental affairs inside the administration and interstate affairs between states. The lieutenant governor is in charge of the Small Business Advisory Council to be a voice for small business. This position also oversees emergency management and is the everyman’s ombudsman. Already, he’s getting phone calls from people who want to talk about their problems—and Paul is proud to welcome each and every call. The lieutenant governor is also the state’s primary cheerleader—promoting tourism into the state by seeking businesses to come in.

“The role of lieutenant governor hasn’t been won by a Republican since the 1960s. We’ve had three Republican governors in recent memory and none of them had coattails big enough to bring the lieutenant governor along,” he said.

Paul’s campaign is garnering more attention every day. He added, “We’re making a difference. We are getting the candidates and we’re developing those candidates. So hopefully, we will soon have what I consider a credible opposition party that will hold politicians’ feet to the fire and not let them get away with the kinds of things they’ve done for the last 80 years.”