The Top 20 General Assembly Races for November
Friday, September 14, 2012
Republicans had the same hopes two years ago but the election delivered little change on Smith Hill.
But Democrats won’t be playing defense in every race. In some districts, the majority party sees a chance to score some big wins and fortify its already-formidable majority in the Statehouse. With several independents thrown into the mix, it looks like the Ocean State won’t be lacking in lively elections for this political season.
Here are some of the legislative races that insiders and analysts say are the must-watch ones for November:
District 47, Burrillville and Glocester: This race, pitting incumbent Democrat Cale Keable against Republican challenger Donald Fox seems to have Democrats really worried. And Fox seems determined to win: when redistricting moved him out of the district, he moved right back in. One political insider says that Keable never took the steps in protect himself against an insurgency in a district with strong conservative currents. “He didn’t do anything to bring home the bacon,” the source said. “He didn’t do anything significant.” This could be a bellwether race for the General Assembly this year.
District 32, North Kingstown: GOP incumbent Larry Ehrhardt is a well-respected and thoughtful voice in the Statehouse. But after nearly losing his primary race, Ehrhardt is entering the general election race weakened (assuming he survives the recount his primary challenger requested). His general-election opponent, Bob Craven, is a well-known Democrat and former state prosecutor whose name has been floated as a possible candidate for Attorney General. “He’s a somebody,” one source said. “He’s not Joe Sixpack.” Craven is also seen as having strong fundraising potential. But a top GOP source is confident that Ehrhardt will pull through.
District 44, Lincoln: He’s just fresh off a bruising primary battle where he knocked out top Democratic incumbent Peter Petrarca, but the fight isn’t over for Gregory Costantino, the brother of Health and Human Services Secretary Steven Costantino. Republican James Archer could be a formidable opponent: around town, he’s known as the guy he led the successful recall effort against the chairman of the town council in 2007. A key factor in the race is whether Petrarca supporters stay home out of lingering bitterness or come out for Costantino.
District 29, Coventry: This race doesn’t seem to have shown up yet on the political establishment’s radar screen, but Republicans are excited about Keith Anderson’s chances against Democratic incumbent Lisa Tomasso. Anderson appears to be a solid conservative. He also has a really compelling personal story: as a result of a crash with a drunk driver when he was a college junior, Anderson is wheelchair-bound and has limited use of his arms. “He’s somebody who could have stayed home and lived off the system and nobody would have blamed him,” one GOP source said. Instead, Anderson finished college and got his degree in finance at Bryant University. After a brief but successful stint in real estate, he went back to school and got his teaching degree. Now the 31-year-old Anderson is a history and business teacher at East Providence High School. One additional factor in his favor: lingering bad blood between Tomasso and local officials over legislation she sponsored on behalf of the local town council—only to later testify against it.
District 46, Lincoln: After fending off a primary threat, Democratic incumbent Jeremiah O’Grady faces three opponents in the general: Republican Matthew Guerra and two independents—Paul DiDomenico and Mary Ann Shallcross Smith. Shallcross Smith, formerly a Democrat, was primaried out by O’Grady just two years ago after crossing unions on a pension vote. She struggled but failed to hold onto her seat as a write-in candidate. The GOP is hoping that she splits the Democratic vote with O’Grady, whose honeymoon with unions may be over after he backed pension reform. At this point, the outcome of the race is pretty much anyone’s guess.
District 67, Warren: This is one that makes both GOP and Democratic must-watch lists. The GOP is optimistic that newcomer Peter Costa, 22, can topple 16-year Statehouse veteran Jan Malik. One factor they say is in their favor: after redistricting, there’s more of Republican-friendly Barrington that’s in District 67.
District 41, Scituate: How much longer can Democrat Michael Marcello hold onto his seat in the only town in Rhode Island that went for John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008? It’s a race that hasn’t gotten too much attention yet, but a top GOP source says Republican contender Marco Lucci is a sleeper candidate who has the potential to put Marcello into early retirement. (The race has also drawn an independent candidate, Lee Grossguth.)
District 31, North Kingstown: This is a classic contest between a fiscally conservative Republican and a Democratic progressive, making the race a test of just how much staying power the Tea Party has in local politics, one veteran observer says. But the GOP doesn’t seem too worried that incumbent Doreen Costa will be unseated by Democrat Steven Campo. Still, given Costa’s propensity to make headlines, this is a race to keep an eye on.
District 26, Cranston: Republican Sean Gately is hoping the third time’s a charm in his bid for this seat. “Sean Gately is as good a Republican as you get,” one political operative tells GoLocalProv. “He’s a go-getter.” Gately’s got good reason to hope: each year he’s been inching closer and closer to a win and Democratic incumbent Bea Lanzi decided to pass on a re-run this year. But Democratic challenger Frank Lombardi won’t make it easy for him. Lombardi, a top school committee member, is rolling into the general election race with momentum, after spending more than $30,000 in the primary and crushing his opponent by a 3 to 1 margin. The attacks are already starting with Gately recently demanding that Lombardi return campaign contributions from an attorney whom he said advised the school committee to waste hundreds of thousands on a “frivolous” lawsuit.
District 27, Cranston: This three-way race features Democratic incumbent Hanna Gallo, Republican Robert Lancia, and independent Aram Garabedian. Based on past election results, Republicans say Lancia should have been able to take down Gallo. Problem is: Warwick Mall owner Garabedian entered the race. Garabedian also is a veteran of local politics, with a resume that includes service as a city council member, state rep, and state senator.
District 33, Coventry: After losing his bid for Secretary of State in 2010, former state Senator Lou Raptakis is hoping to take his seat back from the GOP’s Glenford Shibley. Experts and insiders are divided over his chances. One insider doubts that Coventry voters will feel much of a need to put Raptakis back in. Plus, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed has no interest in seeing a man with a reputation as a rabble rouser back in office, the source noted. So Raptakis probably can’t count on much help from the party machine. But Republicans are bracing for what they think will be a difficult race against someone with a lot of name recognition and conservative bona fides. Raptakis’ double-digit against his primary opponent is certainly a good sign for his campaign.
District 6, Providence: A Republican state Senator from the South Side of Providence? “Believe it or not, we think that’s a winnable race,” said a top GOP source. It certainly would be quite a feat for Republican Russ Hyrzan, the son of a shell-fisherman and an IT manager at Pfizer, to take out Democratic incumbent Harold Metts, a retired longtime educator at Central High School who has spent the better part of the last three decades in the General Assembly, beginning as a state rep in the mid-1980s.
District 22, Smithfield: Former Attorney General candidate Stephen Archambault is hoping to succeed retiring state Senator John Tassoni in a race against the GOP’s Richard Poirier. But it won’t be a cakewalk: Smithfield historically has been more conservative and Tassoni’s predecessor was a long-time Republican. Smithfield also is the only town that Anthony Gemma carried over David Cicilline.
District 36, Narragansett: Several GOP sources believe that incumbent Senator James Sheehan is vulnerable in his race against Tina McKendall. It’s not hard to figure out why the GOP is so eager to oust Sheehan: he’s a prominent pro-labor Democrat who seems to have a habit of getting under the skin of conservatives.
District 23, Burrillville and Glocester: It’s another re-match between two opponents from 2010, except in this instance, it’s a Republican, Jay Forgue, hoping to seat the Democratic incumbent, Paul Fogarty. Republicans are very optimistic about their chances in this one. “Jay Forgue is going to win,” one party source told GoLocalProv.
If you valued this article, please LIKE GoLocalProv.com on Facebook by clicking HERE.
- 10 Last-Minute Deals that Took Place in the General Assembly
- 10 Must-Watch General Assembly Races for 2012
- A LIVELY EXPERIMENT - RI General Assembly
- A LIVELY EXPERIMENT - RI General Assembly 2012
- Back from the Break: What’s Ahead for General Assembly
- Chafee Getting ‘Rolled Over’ by the General Assembly—Says GOP Boss
- Conservative Group Rolls Out Slate of General Assembly Candidates
- General Assembly ‘Failure’ Could Bankrupt Cities and Towns
- General Assembly Attendance: Were Your Legislators MIA?
- General Assembly Surprise - Longevity Pay Preserved in Budget
- General Assembly: Big Issues Loom in Last Week
- General Assembly’s ‘Incumbency Protection Racket’
- Grade the General Assembly
- Lost Legislation At General Assembly: The Bills That Disappeared
- NEW: Central Falls Bankruptcy—General Assembly Leaders Speak Out
- NEW: Education Reform Group Issues General Assembly Endorsements
- NEW: General Assembly ‘Violates’ Open Meetings Law
- NEW: General Assembly Names Redistricting Commission
- NEW: General Assembly Offers Wi-Fi Access
- Providence Budget: Will the General Assembly Come Through?
- Should General Assembly Members be Term-Limited?
- State GOP Announces Plan to Assist General Assembly Candidates
- Top 10 Biggest Issues of the New General Assembly Session
Enjoy this post? Share it with others.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.