10 Primaries to Watch: Who’s Got the Most Cash?

Friday, August 03, 2012


With just over a month before the Sept. 11 primaries, political campaigns are in full swing. GoLocalProv breaks down ten key races to watch and looks at how second quarter fundraising efforts could swing the elections.

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Senate District 14

In the most-talked about Senate race in the state, Senate Finance committee chairman Daniel DaPonte – a key player in last year’s pension reform battle— is being challenged by current State Rep. Roberto DaSilva, who was among the 17 lawmakers who voted against the law.

Both are well-liked in East Providence and they each have a strong base of contributors. If General Treasurer Gina Raimondo is going to help one candidate over the next month, DaPonte would likely be the one given his efforts to push pension reform through a Senate that is often considered controlled by organized labor. DaPonte raised over $30,000 in the second quarter and counts the EngageRI Pac ($1,000) as a contributor.

DaSilva meanwhile raised just over $10,000 and now has $21,308.69 on hand. As reported earlier this week, the pro-labor candidate has received $11,750 in campaign contributions from union PACs since voting against pension reform last year.

The winner will not have an opponent in the general election.

House District 40

Perhaps the largest threat for leadership in either chamber comes in District 40 where businessman Greg Costantino (the brother of former House Finance chairman Steve Costantino) is taking on Deputy Majority Peter Petrarca

Costantino filed after the June 30 second quarter fundraising deadline, so he hasn’t had to file a campaign finance report yet. But the candidate is prepared to spend whatever it takes to defeat Petrarca, who has his eyes on becoming the next Majority Leader. After spending $16,000 in the second quarter (including over $8,000 on billboards), Petrarca still has over $70,000 in the bank.

The winner of this race will take on Republican James Archer.

House District 45

State Rep. Rene Menard has fought off challenges from candidates put up by House leadership in the past, but this time he faces a well-financed opponent in Cumberland Councilwoman Mia Ackerman.

Ackerman has already loaned herself nearly $22,000 and counts Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee as one of her donors. Menard, a retired firefighter, has long been a strong voice for organized labor and has roughly $15,000 in his campaign war chest

The winner will not have an opponent in the general election.

Senate District 9

Michael Pinga was one of the top stories of 2008 when he stunned former Senate Finance chairman Stephen Alves in a Democratic primary, but now he appears to be a target of organized labor. Pinga is being challenged by West Warwick educator Adam Satchell.

Pinga is likely to self-fund his race (he’s loaned over $24,000 since 2008), while Satchell should be able to raise money based on endorsements from the National Education Association, AFL-CIO and Planned Parenthood.

The winner of this race will take on Republican Paul Caianiello Jr.

House District 30

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There are only five Republican primaries taking place in the General Assembly this year, but the race to replace former House Minority Leader Robert Watson is certainly one to watch.

Robert Bolton, who was planning to run against Watson before he announced his retirement, is up against newcomers Emil “Dean” Fachon and Antonio Giarrusso. None of three candidates reported having money in their campaign account as of the end of the second quarter, but in a relatively conservative district, the winner would likely have a strong shot at winning in November.

The winner of this race will take on Democrat Mark Schwager and Independent candidate Kevin McDonough.

House District 8

The seat on Federal Hill has a three-way Democratic primary that includes incumbent Mike Tarro, progressive Libby Kimzey and former Mayor and longtime City Councilman John Lombardi.

Lombardi leads the group in cash on hand with nearly $22,000 and has received campaign contributions from the neighborhood’s Senator (Paul Jabour) as well as Senator Frank Ciccone and Councilman Michael Correia. Kimzey meanwhile is trying to rally the West End base that helped propel Councilman Bryan Principe to victory in 2010. She has over $16,000 in her campaign account

Tarro, who has the ability to self-fund his campaign, has just over $15,000 in his campaign account and has the support of House leadership,.

The winner will not have an opponent in the general election.

Senate District 5

The Senator from Federal Hill (and former Providence Mayoral candidate) has his first credible challenger in several elections in Maura Kelly. Kelly, who works for the Rhode Island Department of Education and previously consulted for EngageRI, raised $24,378 since announcing her candidacy. Among her donors were former Board of Regents member Angus Davis and retired Nortek CEO Richard Bready, the man Curt Schilling claims was willing to invest in 38 Studios if the state was willing to sign off on tax credits

Jabour historically self-funds his campaigns and has just under $3,000 in his campaign account, but he is extremely popular in his district and will be a tough out.

The winner will not have an opponent in the general election.

House District 49

Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt has two Democratic challengers in Stuart Gitlow and Michael Morin. Baldelli-Hunt, who played a major role in killing the supplemental tax hike in Woonsocket this year and is widely viewed as a potential Mayoral candidate, has less than $2,000 in her campaign account.

Morin is a Woonsocket firefighter and should pick up plenty of labor support while Gitlow has just under $300 in his account. Gitlow ran for State Rep. in 2010 and spent less than $2,000 while earning just 19 percent of the vote

The winner will take on Independent Michael Moniz in the general election.

House District 65

In a district completely revamped by redistricting, this open seat includes lawyer Tim Chapman, teacher Gregg Amore and former State Senate candidate James Miller. While none of the candidate have significant campaign accounts yet, Amore is supported by organized labor (which always plays a role in East Providence) while Chapman is the former East Providence city solicitor.

The winner will take on Moderate Joseph Botelho Jr. and Republican Stephanie Sivalingam in the general election.

Senate District 29

In another attempt to unseat a member of leadership, attorney Laura Pisaturo is taking on Senate Judiciary chairman Michael McCaffrey. Pisaturo has not filed a campaign finance report yet (she announced after the second quarter deadline), but she has the support of Marriage Equality RI, which is focusing on the Senate in its attempt to pass same-sex marriage next year. McCaffrey meanwhile is very popular in the district and has over $145,000 in his campaign war chest.

The winner will not have an opponent in the general election.

Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.


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