Poll: Taveras has highest approval rating in state

Mayor Angel Taveras

Two popular politicians are possibly going to square off in next year's race for Rhode Island governor.

The most popular politician in Rhode Island -- Providence Mayor Angel Taveras -- was being grilled Thursday by seniors in the West End of his city, wanting to know about potholes and flooding.

But he's at nearly 64 percent approval in a Brown University poll -- and it's a statewide poll. But if he wants to be governor, NBC 10 political analyst Wendy Schiller said he needs to get out more.

"We have to see more of Angel and how he resonates around the state with different kinds of constituencies and different kinds of problems before we can really assess how his popularity will translate into a governor's run," Schiller said.

Schiller said his likely opponent for the Democratic nomination is General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, whose approval rating of 56 percent is virtually within the margin of error of Taveras's.

But Schiller said Raimondo has a built in head start.

"Gina Raimondo has the advantage of being statewide, which means she's already been elected statewide, she has a statewide portfolio, and she gets statewide attention for what she does," Schiller said.

While it appears both are going to jump in -- former state Auditor General Ernie Almonte has already declared -- neither one is committing at this point.

"Nothing has changed my original answer to that, and that is I will make a decision about my political future later this year and keep focused on doing things that I need to do in the city of Providence and then I'll have time to make a decision on my future in the near future," Taveras said.

Raimondo was unavailable for comment Thursday.

According to the Brown poll, Gov. Lincoln Chafee's approval stands at 25.5 percent and Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts has 30.9 percent approval.