10 Must-Watch General Assembly Races for 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


With the deadline to file for running for office set for today, GoLocalProv breaks down ten major General Assembly races to watch over the next several months.

Senate D-14 (East Providence)

If you want to see how much last November’s pension reform vote will play a role in the 2012 elections, this is the race to watch. Incumbent Daniel DaPonte is the Senate Finance committee chairman and received praise last year for helping push General Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s pension reform plan through the Senate. Challenging him in the Democratic primary will be State Rep. Roberto DaSilva, who was one of just 17 lawmakers to vote against the final pension reform bill last fall.

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The two are both very popular in East Providence, but if Treasurer Raimondo plans to actively support anyone in specific General Assembly races, it would appear DaPonte, a 14-year veteran on Smith Hill, would be the guy. Of course, the unions may use this race as a rallying cry, which could help DaSilva unseat his opponent.

House D-8 (Providence)

First-term incumbent Mike Tarro is mixed up in a three-way Democratic primary that includes former Mayor and Council President John Lombardi and progressive Libby Kimzey. Tarro has the support of House Speaker Gordon Fox and won convincingly in his first go-around in 2010. Meanwhile, Lombardi is very popular on Federal Hill and has the reputation for being a tireless campaigner.

Kimzey got a head start in this race by announcing her candidacy last December and has the support of both the chairperson of the Providence Democratic City Committee (Lauren Nocera) and its executive director (Alex Moore).

House D-29 (Coventry)

East Providence school teacher Keith Anderson may be the star of the Republican crop of General Assembly candidates this year. Anderson has a compelling story and threw his hat in the ring early to get a head start on incumbent Lisa Tomasso.

Tomasso, a first-term Democrat, won by fewer than ten votes in 2010, but will likely pick up the support of House leadership. While she is by no means considered a liberal candidate, Tomasso may paint Anderson as a far-right candidate based on his support from Tea Party groups.

House D-65 (East Providence)

After major changes in redistricting, District 65 is an open seat and may have more candidates throw their hat in the ring by the end of the day. As it stands now, lawyer Tim Chapman, a former assistant city solicitor in East Providence, may be the favorite. The race also includes East Providence teacher Gregg Amore and former State Senate candidate James Miller.

Senate D-27 (Cranston)

This three-way race will go all the way to November with incumbent Democrat Hanna Gallo taking on Warwick mall owner Aram Garabedian (Independent) and Republican Robert Lancia, who has lost races for Senate and City Council in the past.

While Gallo has had strong union support in the past, 2012 may be different because of her vote in favor of pension reform last fall. Even if she can win back the unions, Garabedian, a former Cranston City President, State Rep. and State Senator, will have all the money he needs to match her dollar for dollar.

House D-46 (Lincoln & Pawtucket)

In another race that will have at least three candidates making it all the way to November, incumbent Democrat Jay O’Grady finds himself in a difficult predicament. Backed by organized labor in 2010, O’Grady is another Rep. who voted in favor of pension reform last fall and now could face backlash this time around. O’Grady is up against former Democratic Rep. Mary Ann Shallcross Smith (who is running as an Independent) and Republican Matt Guerra, who finished second in 2010.

Senate D-6 (Providence)

Incumbent Democrat Harold Metts will have his first serious opponent in several years in Republican Russ Hryzan. The first-time candidate and Pfizer employee has already dropped $10,000 of his own cash into the race and is receiving help from the Republican Strike Force group that is attempting to unseat Democrats. Still, Metts is popular within his neighborhood and will likely have some union support to help him if the race appears close in November.

House D-54 (North Providence)

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The seat left open by the retiring Greg Schadone will feature a three-way Democratic primary and the winner will faceoff with Independent candidate Ken Amoriggi. David Pellegrino, a lawyer and former intern in Senator Jack Reed’s Washington office, has the support of Schadone, but will face challenges from Democrats William O’Brien and Lance Mantia.

Senate D-5 (Providence)

Longtime Senator Paul Jabour, who once challenged Buddy Cianci for Mayor of Providence, will face a serious challenge from Democrat Maura Kelly, who is currently a Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) employee. Kelly has the support of education reformers who felt they received no help during the 2012 General Assembly session and she also counts Treasurer Raimondo as a mentor. Still, Jabour is popular in the neighborhood and may align himself with Rep. candidate John Lombardi to pick up more support on Federal Hill.

House D- 47 (Burrillville and Glocester)

First-term Democrat Cale Keable made headlines earlier this year when his community was at the center of a redistricting controversy that forced 2010 opponent Donald Fox out of the district. But Fox is back and Republicans may rally behind the candidate to try to make an example out of Keable. That said, Keable is a Harvard-educated lawyer, has plenty of money and will have the support of House leadership.


Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]


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