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A Hummel Report Investigation

Conventional Wisdom

This week we begin a series of reports leading up to the November elections. Rhode Island voters will be asked to decide whether the state should hold its first constitutional convention in nearly 30 years. So what does that really mean? Jim Hummel sits down with those on both sides of the issue - and with a delegate to the last convention. Plus: vintage video from the 1986 convention.


Hummel: Voters face a full ballot when they go to the polls on November 4th - from federal races right on down to their local offices. But tucked in among half a dozen other referendum questions is No. 3: should the state hold a constitutional convention? If so, it would be the first one in 30 years.
The video leaves no doubt it’s been three decades since the last constitutional convention: from the mid-‘80s fashions to delegates smoking on the House floor. And it’s a reminder that a new generation of voters may have no idea exactly what a convention would mean.
Hummel: ``Overall how was the 1986 convention for you?’’
Driver: ``I would say not very fun.’’
Rod Driver was a political newcomer when he ran to become a delegate to the convention that was elected in 1985 and convened in early 1986. After the convention Driver would go on to serve a total of 10 years in the House duringĀ  two separate stints.
And while he’s candid that it was a challenging experience, Driver is urging voters to approve Question 3, saying the General Assembly has circumvented merit selection for judges and not been receptive to other issues like voter initiative or line-item veto power for the governor.

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