Johnston Mayor to Endorse Petrarca in Top Legislative Race
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena will endorse House Deputy Majority Leader Peter Petrarca in his District 44 race against Gregory Costantino, GoLocalProv has learned.
The two are set to meet this week and Polisena is expected to offer his support to the incumbent, who is involved in one of the mostly hotly contested General Assembly primaries of the year.
Petrarca won re-election two years ago by less than seven percentage points. Of the three communities that make up District 44 (Lincoln, Smithfield and Johnston), his 17-point victory in Johnston was by far the most decisive.
But with a credible challenger in Costantino, those close to Polisena thought the Mayor would stay away from the race until after the primary. It is unclear whether House leadership played a role in convincing Polisena to change his mind.
Petrarca and Costantino have already taken to labeling each other insiders who benefits from connections, with Petrarca pointing to the Costantino family receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in Providence Economic Development Partnership loans and Costantino claiming Petrarca has used his platform as a legislator to push legislation that directly benefits his father’s autobody business, Providence Autobody.
“Gregory Costantino and his family are the ultimate insiders who have been benefitting from the government for decades,” Petrarca said in a press release two weeks ago. “He claims, apparently with a straight face, that I am promoting the private self-interest of myself and my family. Who is he kidding? The Costantino Family extends its reach throughout the state for its own self-betterment.”
“For too long my opponent, the current representative has ignored those people and has chosen instead to promote the private self interest of himself and his family,” Costantino contends. “And what does he have to show for it?”
Petrarca is believed to have his eyes on becoming the next House Majority Leader and has already aligned himself with House Finance chairman Helio Melo, who is believed to be the frontrunner to become the next Speaker when current Speaker Gordon Fox eventually steps away.
Costantino, a well-known businessman whose family owns Venda Ravioli on Federal Hill, planned to challenge Petrarca for the seat as an Independent two years ago, but eventually backed away from his candidacy.
The winner of the Sept. 11 Democratic primary will take on Republican James Archer in the general election