Progressive Democrats Target 15 General Assembly Seats in RI
Thursday, June 02, 2016
Election Day is five months away, following a Presidential Preference Primary in Rhode Island which saw Bernie Sanders top Hillary Clinton in what has historically been “Clinton Country.”
SLIDES: 15 Key Races for Progressive Democrats BELOW
GoLocal spoke with Sam Bell, the State Director for the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, for his take.
“I think this year people are just upset with the establishment,” said Bell. “Our goal is to make gains -- if we don't, we'll see an onslaught of extreme right ring policy -- brutal cuts to cities and towns, more tax cuts to rich, even abortion restrictions, NRA backed gun legislation. If we send a message, there's both a lot less chance for extreme right wing politics, and also for laying the groundwork for changing how we do politics in Rhode Island.”
Non-Binding Look at Races
Bell noted that the races he identified Wednesday are not an exhaustive list nor are they an endorsement by the Progressive Democrats of any candidate, but rather a look at races that he sees as being competitive.
“It’s been difficult to push the progressive agenda here,” said Bell. “Marriage equality required massive mobilization --- that’s not to say we couldn’t do that on some other issues. In the next year or two, after Massachusetts most likely passes marijuana legalization, that could pass in Rhode Island.”
“The path for progressive change is for the people of Rhode Island to make our voices clear,” said Bell. “We've stopped a lot of awful things -- we were part of an improbable stop of the Providence [PawSox] stadium. We would have never thought [Representative] Cale Keable would have come out against the [Burrillville] power plant.”
Related Slideshow: Races to Watch in 2016 - RI Progressive Democrats
Sam Bell, State Director for the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, ran through a list of races to watch at the GA in 2016. Bell noted that as of June 1, Progressive Dems had yet to make endorsements. "This is just my take and analysis of these races," said Bell.
Bell noted other races as well that weren't on the list.
"Julie Casimiro, because of her positions on certain labor issues and some of her past work on education, but we view her as a real Democrat, we are certainly cheering her on, and some of our members may well help her out," said Bell, who noted it was similar for another Democrat. "Same for Lisa Tomasso, we certainly feel she is the much preferable candidate (to Republican Sherry) Roberts."
1. House District 60
Incumbent: Rep. David Coughlin (D)
Challenger: David Norton (D)
"[Coughlin] is facing a strong challenger in Norton. I think the [PawSox] stadium issue really resonated with people in Pawtucket, and the problem with the way politics works in RI. Pawtucket has a unique understanding of that, and Coughlin is out of step with the district and vulnerable," said Bell.
2. House District 54
Incumbent: Rep. William O'Brien (D)
Challenger: Bill Deware (D)
"Bill's the head of the Rhode Island Radiologist Association, he's been active in UNAP. O'Brien has painted himself as an established politician. He wanted to lower the corporate income tax. On economic issues he's out of step with the middle class in his district," said Bell.
3. House District 67
Incumbent: Rep. Jan Malik (D)
Challenger: Jason Knight (D)
"Malik has been extremely ideologically conservative, with an 'A plus' rating from the NRA. He voted against marriage equality and his district isn't extremely right wing -- it's very liberal on social issues. And Warren is a place where you saw two successful progressive town council primaries last cycle, knocking out established [Democrats]," said Bell.
4. House District 3
Incumbent: Rep. Thomas Palangio (D)
Challenger: Moira Walsh (D)
Walsh, a Classical High School and Rhode Island College Grad, who has been an organizer for Jobs with Justice, is challenging Pelangio on Smith Hill.
Pelangio served as a State Rep from 1992-2002; he was elected again in 2012 and then again in 2014.
5. House District 69
Incumbent: Open (after Ray Gallison stepped down)
Challenger: Susan Donovan (D)
"The machine has still yet to put up someone to replace Gallison. People are really excited about change, especially with what happened there. I'd be surprised if leadership even wants to go in there," said Bell.
6. House District 25
Incumbent: Rep. Jared Nunes (D)
Challenger: Kathleen Decker (D)
Coventry, West Warwick
"There's two races in West Warwick, and Nunes is one of them. Remember, he proposed "tolls everywhere"," said Bell, referencing his assessment of Nunes public-private funding proposal for roads.
8. House District 22
Incumbent: Joseph Solomon, Jr. (D)
Challenger: Jennifer Siciliano (D)
"She jumped in last minute to run against Solomon again -- and again, he is someone who's endorsed by the NRA. I think he's out of step with the party's core values, and it's a community that knows we need change," said Bell.
13. Senate District 34
Incumbent: Sen. Elaine Morgan (R)
Challenger: Catherine Cool Rumsey (D)
Charles, Exeter, Hopkington, Richmond, West Greenwich
"Morgan beat Rumsey in 2014, in a year that the state's Democratic candidate, Gina Raimondo, narrowly carried the race. It was uniquely bad for down ballot races (for the Dems). Now with Trump at the top of the ticket for the Rs, it will be hard for Morgan," said Bell.
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