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Underdog Watch: Rhode Island State Treasurer Gina Raimondo

I was gratified to see The Wall Street Journal run an opinion piece on Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island State Treasurer, for her work overhauling the state’s pension system.

I picked her as one of my “Top Underdog Persuaders of 2011”, which is featured on Fortune Management’s ’s CNN  Money  site: http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2011/12/30/the-most-notable-underdogs-of-2011/

I know what you are thinking—- she’s the Rhode Island State Treasurer, so she can’t be an underdog.  However, underdog status is contextual; the position and resources of your influence prospect vs. your resources and position determines your underdog status. Raimondo was taking on the state public employee unions, who, when aroused, have a tendency to make public officials nervous.

If I were to study all of her tactics, I would probably find that she used many of the extreme influence tactics in The Underdog Edge.  She reeks of underdog “street cred” by being unbiased, and she engaged extreme influence tactic # 2 by using vivid communications. She spent most of last year crisscrossing the state, educating people about the magnitude of the problem, holding real conversations with state officials and employees. Vivid communication is about proximity. Live discussions beat digital discussions, and she adroitly embraced that technique.

She possesses underdog “street cred” because she was unbiased — she wasn’t a Republican taking on the unions.  She was a Democrat taking on the unions.  That gave her instant credibility with the general public. We don’t usually see legislators take on interest groups supportive of their own political party

I can’t wait to see what she does next. Gina Raimondo is definitely an underdog to watch.