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slides: 15 Super-Hot General Assembly Races to Watch in RI

Monday, October 24, 2016

 

Election Day is just two weeks away on Tuesday -- here are the General Assembly races that are hotter than hot in Rhode Island. 

SLIDES: See 15 Super-Hot General Assembly Races BELOW

Some are rematches, some are three-ways, some are write-ins, and some just have major implications depending on the outcome of the race.

New Tool Launched

This election season, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea unveiled www.rivotes.org, a mobile-optimized website aimed at increasing voter participation among Millenials - Rhode Islanders between the ages of 18 and 35. Nationally, Millennials now represent about 31% of the electorate, but turnout has traditionally been lower than other generation groups.
 
“In 1971, the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution made the legal voting age in the country 18, down from 21. Yet here we are, 45 years later and so many young citizens are disengaged,” said Gorbea. "I am committed to engaging and empowering all Rhode Islanders in the electoral process, but we must do more to encourage participation among our younger Rhode Islanders."
 

 

Related Slideshow: 15 RI General Assembly Races to Watch in 2016

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#15

House District 27

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. Patricia Serpa (D)

Challenger(s): Mark Bourget (I)

Serpa, who is seeking her sixth term representing District 27 in West Warwick, Warwick, and Coventry, turned back Progressive challenger Nicholas Delmenico in the Democratic primary in September. 

As Chair of House Oversight Committee, Serpa has been front and center — and vociferously so — at the General Assembly hearings into the state’s botched UHIP rollout.  Back in August, however, Serpa was asked to subpoena the 38 Studios investigation interview documents from the Rhode Island State Police.  (GoLocalProv has since sued Governor Raimondo and the State Police to get them).

Now, Serpa remains in the hot seat as she faces Independent Mark Bourget. 

Pictured: Rep. Patricia Serpa

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#14

Senate District 17

On the ballot

Incumbent: N/A - outgoing Sen. Edward O'Neill

Challenger(s): Gina Petrarca-Karampetsos (D); Thom Paolino (R)

The race for former State Senator Edward O’Neill’s seat in Lincoln and parts of North Providence and North Smithfield is taking another interesting twist.

O’Neill, prior to announcing he would not be running for the seat he had held since 2008, switched his party affiliation from Independent to Republican. 

Only one Republican candidate emerged to follow O’Neill — Thom Paolino — but a crowded Democratic primary saw Petrarca-Karampetsos emerge from a four person field.

Lawyer Petrarca-Karampetsos practices alongside her bother Peter Petrarca, who is often before the Providence Board of Canvassers.

Pictured: Petrarca-Karempetsos (and brother Peter Petrarca).

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#13

House District 1

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. Edith Ajello (D)

Challenger(s): Ray Mathieu (I)

The twelve-term Representative for District 1 on the East Side of Providence is facing a strong opponent in 2016.

Democrat Rep. Ajello, who was first elected in 1992, is being challenged by Independent businessman Mathieu, who had been Managing Director and Chief Financial Officers at Prov Equity, the $23 billion private equity firm. 

“I am not looking for a career in politics (I’ve already had two successful careers in banking and private equity) or to serve any special interest groups other than the RI taxpayers,” said Mathieu, who cites John Chafee and Bruce Sundlun among his political inspirations. 

Ajello had been at the forefront of the marijuana legalization front in Rhode Island for years, has been known for her support of legislation protecting civil liberties. 

Pictured: Rep. Ajello

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#12

House District 16

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. Robert Lancia (R)

Challenger(s): Christpher Millea (D)

In 2014, Republican Lancia beat beleaguered Rep. Peter Palumbo 52.4% to 47.4% — after Palumbo found himself at the center of a Democratic party scandal and an ethics complaint .

(As GoLocal reported in 2014, “Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block chastised Democratic Party Chair David Caprio and Palumbo for ‘rigging the game’ and ‘serving their own financial interests’, citing an NBC 10 I-Team investigative report that revealed Palumbo was the high bidder on a contract to operate concession stands at state beaches but then backed out, and the contract was awarded to the second highest bidder, Caprio, who then hired Palumbo to manage the operation,”

Lancia, who has been a strong champion of veterans issues at the State House while facing questions of his own veterans’ effort, is squaring off against Democratic lawyer Millea, who just received the endorsement of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Care Professionals.  

Pictured: Christopher Millea

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#11

House District 32

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. Robert Craven (D)

Challenger(s): Mark Zaccaria (R)

Incumbent Craven, a lawyer, was first elected to District 32 in North Kingstown in 2012. In 2014, he defeated Republican Sharon Gamba 51.9% to 47.8%.

Now, Craven faces former RI GOP Party Chair Mark Zaccaria, who in 2014 squared off against Senator Jack Reed and garnered just under 30% of the vote. 

Zaccaria has been a visible figure with his show “Common Sense RI” on politics in the state; Craven has been hard at fundraising, garnering over $17,000 in the last quarter alone from top party officials and PACs. 

Pictured: Mark Zaccaria

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#10

House District 72

On the ballot

Incumbent: N/A - outgoing Rep. Dan Reilly

Challenger(s): Ken Mendonca (R); Linda Finn (D)

The race for Republican Dan Reilly’s District 72 seat finds former Democratic Rep.  Finn (who had beat Reilly in 2012 before losing to him in 2014) being challenged by Republican Mendonca.

Former member Finn faced a particularly difficult Democratic primary, which saw Democratic party chair Joe McNamara endorse Finn’s opponent instead, as reported by the Providence Journal.

Staunch gun-control candidate Finn was endorsed however by the Portsmouth and Middletown Democratic committees - and recently refused to take part in the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens debate against opponent Mendonca. 

Pictured: Ken Mendonca

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#9

House District 59

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. Jean Philipe Barros (D)

Challenger(s): Lori Barden (I); Jonathan Vallecilla (I)

The politics of Pawtucket finds incumbent Rep. Jean Philippe Barros, who was first elected in 2014, facing two Independent names on the ballot, Lori Barden and Andrew Maguire.

in 2014, Barros defeated John Arcaro in the district’s Democratic primary, 804 votes to Arcaro’s 582. 

Now, Arcaro is squaring off against Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien — and both Arcaro and Barden were at the recent protest at Hope Artiste Village where former tenants and community activists came out in opposition to controversial California developer getting $3.6 million from the state. 

Read what Barden said here.

Photo: Barden/Twitter

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#8

Senate District 21

On the ballot

Incumbent: Sen. Nick Kettle (R)

Challenger(s): Margaux Morisseau (D)

Another race that is repeat of 2014 — that saw Kettle prevail with 54.9% of the vote to Morisseau’s 35.6% (with their party candidate Zachary Farnum garnering 9.3% of the vote), Progressive Morisseau is slated to challenge Kettle once again. 

Kettle, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010, said on the record he did not plan on holding the seat this long, however. 

In July, GoLocal reported Kettle had pledged to quit after two terms. 

Pictured: Morisseau/Twitter

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#7

House District 29

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. Sherry Roberts (R)

Challenger(s): Lisa Tomasso (D)

The 2014 rematch pits incumbent Republican Roberts against Democrat Tomasso — who had been elected to represent the district in 2010 and 2012 before being defeated last cycle.

Roberts, who topped Tomasso at their 2014 head-to-head 2805 votes to 2558, questioned Tomasso’s involvement in 2015 in a town DEM issue.

Tomasso, meanwhile, has been putting forth legislative proposals, ranging from pledging to introduce legislation to phase out the motor vehicle tax, to calling for veterans pensions to be 100% tax exempt. 

Photo: Tomasso/Twitter

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#6

House District 47

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. Cale Keable (D)

Challenger(s): David Place (R)

All politics is local, and perhaps no where in Rhode Island are local politics more heated right now than in Burrillville, as they pertain to the Invenergy power plant proposal.   

Democratic lawyer Cale Keable was first elected to District 47 in 2010 — and faced no opponent in the last general election in 2014. Since then, Keable has been in the middle of the local control issue as far as the Invenergy power plant is concerned —  this past year he introduced an ill-fated measure to give Burrillville residents control over the proposal, which approved overwhelmingly in the House but failed to make it out of committee on the Senate side. 

Republican Councilman David Place — who along with the town body voted to opposed the power plant in September — has been running a campaign opposed to RhodeWorks and truck tolls, among other issues. Keable voted for truck tolls. 

Photo: Cale Keable/FB

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#5

Senate District 11

On the ballot

Incumbent: Sen. John Pagliarini (R)

Challenger(s): John Seveney (D)

It’s deja vu all over again. In January, Republican Pagliarini won the special election against Democrat Seveney to fill the seat vacated by Republican Senator Christopher Ottiano, when he left to take a job at Neighborhood Health Plan. 

Despite getting the endorsement of Ottiano — and the Newport Daily News — Seveney was unsuccessful on his first attempt. 

Now, the staunch anti-truck toll Pagliarini and Seveney are squaring off once more. Seveney refused to take part in the recent Portsmouth Concerned Citizens forum.

Photo: Pagliarini

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#4

House District 75

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. Lauren Carson 

Challenger(s): Mike Smith

The 2014 challenger to Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed has set his sights on a new target — Representative Lauren Carson. 

Smith, who ran as a Republican against Paiva Weed last election and lost with 44.9% of the vote to Paiva Weed’s 54.9%, is battling with Carson, who beat Peter Martin in the 2014 Democratic primary and ran unopposed in the general election. 

Carson has been front in center in the oversight of the state’s botched tourism campaign rollout, Chairing the House special commission on tourism.  Smith took issue with Carson’s public position on 38 Studios however, pointing out that when she called in September for the State Police to release the interview notes,  that she had voted in June against a bill calling for the appointment of an independent investigator. 

Picture: Lauren Carson

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#3

House District 26

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. Patricia Morgan (R)

Challenger(s): Anthony Paolino (D), Vincent Marzullo (I)

One of a number of three-way races pits Deputy Minority Leader Morgan facing two opponents once again — in 2014, she turned back Democrat Nicholas Denice and Moderate Paul Caianiello — whose combined 49.7% of the vote were ultimately bested by Morgan’s 50.1%.

Now, Morgan, who was first elected in 2010, faces veteran Paolino on the Democratic side, and Independent Marzullo, who is known for his long-term work in the state’s service community, having overseen the AmeriCorps VISA program.

Morgan had put her support — unsuccessfully —  behind GOP candidate Shawna Lawton in the GOP primary in Cranston with Steve Frias.  Morgan recently decried the Raimondo administration’s botched UHIP rollout. Marzullo demanded Morgan denounce Trump, and Paolino has appealed to those “tired of the business as usual politics and ineffective career politicians.”

Photo: Marzullo

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#2

House District 5

On the ballot

Incumbent: Rep. John DeSimone*

Challenger(s): Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D), Roland Lavallee (R)

The two-way turned three-way-race in District 5 in Providence could be one of the most intriguing battles of 2016.

Progressive Ranglin-Vassell beat incumbent John DeSimone in the Democratic primary, only to have DeSimone toss his hat back in the ring with a write-in campaign —  to create a cross-cutting general election among three candidates. 

While the Democrats have a Progressive and more conservative candidate, Republican Lavallee is making the case for being outside the Democratic machine. “The one party rule has led Rhode Island in a race to the bottom for every major metric that would determine livability, freedoms and business friendly climate,” said Lavallee. 

Photo: Ranglin-Vassell

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#1

House District 15

On the ballot

Incumbent: Speaker Nicholas Mattiello 

Challenger(s): Steve Frias (R), Patrick Vallier (I)

Undisputedly the top legislative contest this election season, the battle between Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, Republican challenger and Republican National Committeeman Steve Frias, and independent Patrick Vallier in District 15 is the race to watch in 2016.

In June, GoLocal looked at a number of the issues between incumbent Mattiello and Frias,   (Vallier, who filed his notice of organization in July, reports having no cash on hand, contributions, and has no discernible campaign presence online).  

Since then, developments including Donald Trump’s mounting problems — and Frias’ reluctance to talk about the GOP nominee, despite being the national committeeman, as well as campaign issues ranging from line-item veto to car tax repeal — have entered the race, with both candidates continuing to pound the pavement in Cranston. 

OSTPA’s Pam Gencarella wrote for GoLocal that Mattiello is feeling the heat — while GoLocal’s Russ Moore wrote that a defeat of the conservative Mattiello would be a “hollow victory” for the GOP.

 
 

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