Candidate runs on 'Sick of Scandals' ticket

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — A candidate trying to unseat the incumbent mayor of Rhode Island's fourth-biggest city isn't a Democrat or Republican.

John Arcaro declares himself a member of the "Sick of Scandals" movement, and state election officials are allowing him to include the phrase on the ballot next to his name.

Arcaro said he came up with the idea to get corruption-weary Pawtucket residents behind his candidacy, noting that people are already telling him, "Hey, is that a party? How do I join?"

He also believes the phrase has universal appeal, not just in a small state with a history of cronyism.

"We obviously have a very notorious reputation," Arcaro said. "But the opportunity's pretty much everywhere, or the conditions to be corrupt and so forth."

Arcaro said he was partly inspired by New York's Rent is Too Damn High Party, whose founder attracted wide attention for his populist campaigns for governor and other offices but ran into some trouble over New York's 15-letter limit on party labels.

Independent candidates who don't belong to a registered party in Rhode Island can declare a political principle on their candidacy forms. It's included on the ballot if it's no more than three words and doesn't mention any of the state's official parties: Democratic, Republican and Moderate.

Candidates in states with stricter ballot rules have gone as far as legally changing their names to show their experience or what they stand for. One accountant, for instance, changed his name to Robert Mead C.P.A. and was elected as Kentucky's state treasurer in 1987.

There's also some local precedent for Arcaro's designation. Of the three candidates running for Rhode Island's lieutenant governor in 2010, one ran on the "Hour With Bob" ticket, after the candidate's TV show. Another ran on the "Cool Moose" ticket, a reference to Rhode Island's now-defunct Cool Moose Party.

The third candidate, a Democrat, won.

Arcaro said that after being a lifelong Democrat, he is an unaffiliated voter whose pick for president in November will be Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. Arcaro has unsuccessfully run for other local offices before. This is the first time he's doing it on the Sick of Scandals ticket, which he sometimes abbreviates as SoS.

Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien, a Democrat seeking his fourth three-year term in November, doesn't object to running against the Sick of Scandals candidate and said "anybody has a right" to declare a political preference. Grebien said he's proud of his record helping to revive the economically struggling city of about 71,000 people from the brink of state takeover.

Grebien has been dogged in recent months by a state Ethics Commission investigation into the city's hiring of one of the mayor's tenants in 2011. Grebien said the allegations are "unwarranted" and came from a former city official upset over his son getting terminated from a probationary firefighter job in 2013.

In talking about Arcaro, his sole opponent in the mayoral race, Grebien mixes criticism with faint praise.

"He's anti-everybody. That's what he's run on before," Grebien said. "To his credit, he wants to be heard. He's a volunteer. He's actually involved right now in the midnight basketball league."

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