In October of last year, Eleanor M. Carey wrote an article for The Sun's Opinion * Commentary page criticizing Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. for not being "vigilant" in overseeing the procurement process in state government. Within two months, Mr. Curran sent a letter to all secretaries of departments and agency heads advising them to comply with new procurement procedures.
The incident helps explain why The Evening Sun, which has great respect for Joe Curran, has decided to endorse Ms. Carey for the Democratic nomination for attorney general.
After eight years as attorney general, four as lieutenant governor and 24 in the General Assembly, Mr. Curran has become a reactive official. He also is tired in the job, it seems to us. His first choice this year was to run for governor, but political reality changed his mind.
He has been a good attorney general, especially in his first term. He substantially increased the number of women assistant attorneys general. He has won several victories for consumers, ending some unsavory practices, bringing about fines for the guilty and millions of dollars in refunds. This newspaper appreciates his devotion to sensible gun control laws.
Challenger Patrick J. Smith of Montgomery County is an able lawyer with some interesting ideas. But neither he nor Mr. Curran measures up to Ellie Carey. She has good ideas, energy, vision and a respect for vigilance. She is the best lawyer in the field. (She would face another skilled lawyer in the general election -- Richard D. Bennett, who is unopposed in the Republican primary.)
And she has demonstrated she can manage the state's law department. She did that while she was deputy attorney general from 1979 until 1987. In those years, the role of the attorney general was re-defined. Independence became the key word. Officials were counseled, often vigorously, to do what was best for the state, legally and, on occasion, in policy terms. Ms. Carey wants to be a player in state government. For instance, she has promised to take tough measures to deal with "deadbeat dads" -- and to prod the legislature to give the attorney general power to get even tougher.
Ms. Carey has used her talents as a lawyer in a variety of public ways in the past eight years. Most notably, she handled the attorney general-like job of investigating the failure of Rhode Island's credit union system. Eleanor Carey has the background, the legal skills, the energy and the forward-looking ideas that strongly recommend her for the Democratic nomination for attorney general.