RI Democratic Party Under Fire for Conservative Endorsements

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

 

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Speaker Nick Mattiello and Democratic Party Chairman Joe McNamara

The Rhode Island Democratic Party is on the verge of splitting right up the middle.  The Democratic Party and committee structure have recruited and endorsed a series of ultra-right wing candidates and some with criminal charges pending. The collection of endorsements of a pro-Trump candidate and a pro-life conservative has infuriated and mobilized the progressive wing of the party.

The Democratic Party, as well as district committees, have endorsed the following candidates and the usually accessible Rhode Island Democratic State Chairman Joe McNamara isn’t talking. McNamara is a close political ally of Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello who is feeling pressure both in his effort to hold onto the Speakership and win re-election.

- Michael Earnheart is challenging State Rep. Moira Walsh and he received the Democratic endorsement for House District 3 over the incumbent progressive Walsh. Earnheart says he has been a Democrat, but did vote in the GOP Presidential primary in order to support Donald Trump. “I have been a registered Democrat all my life. In 2016 I disaffiliated so I could vote in the Republican primary because I found both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to be not strong supporters of business,” Earnheart told GoLocal.

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State Rep. Moira Jayne Walsh loses endorsement to a pro-Trump Democrat

- Former State Representative John Carnevale is the endorsed candidate for House District 13. He is currently facing three felony charges. Previously, when he was serving in the House, he was a strong supporter of Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello — a fellow conservative Democrat.

- Holly Taylor Coolman has been endorsed by Democratic House District Committee 5 and she is challenging State Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell. In 2016, Ranglin-Vassell shocked the political world when she defeated Mattiello’s Majority Leader John DeSimone in the Democratic primary and then again in the General Election when DeSimone tried a failed write-in candidacy.

"I am pro-life. Among other things, that means that I am opposed to abortion-on-demand. As regards public policy, I, like most Americans, believe we have to navigate this complex issue carefully. In fact, one of my primary commitments as a candidate is a refusal of ideology in favor of principle, and a refusal of culture wars in favor of reasoned conversation," Coolman told GoLocal.

- Greg Acciardo, a former state senator with a criminal record, was recruited and endorsed to run against Bridget Valverde, a Democratic candidate for Senate District 35. Valverde blistered the decision by the Democratic Party to endorse Acciardo.

“Acciardo popped up at the campaign declaration deadline and was immediately handed the official Democratic endorsement by Joe McNamara,” said Valverde in a statement. She goes on to blister Acciardo’s criminal record which she says includes a vehicular manslaughter case.

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State Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell not endorsed by Democrats

Progressives Blister RI Democratic Party Decisions

The reaction from a range of progressives is outrage. As progressive candidates continue to make more inroads, the pushback has become more pronounced.

“It is absolutely shameful that the establishment machine is lining up behind conservative, unethical and anti-woman candidates to run against real Democrats in races across Rhode Island. The Democratic Party should be publicly condemning candidates like Michael Earnheart, a vocal Trump supporter running against State Rep. Moira Walsh, and criminally indicted candidates like John Carnevale. Instead, these campaigns are receiving the state party endorsement. The corrupt establishment ought to be ashamed of themselves. Rhode Islanders deserve better,” said State Representative Aaron Regunberg who is running for Lt. Governor.

Community activist Rodrigo Pimentel took to Facebook to blister the Democratic Party, “Extremely disappointed with the state party. Rep. Moira Jayne Walsh has fought for everyone in her district – she is one of the most responsive state representatives that I know. Running an Alt-right candidate is a sign of desperation from certain powers in the state party.”

The Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America's Jennifer Siciliano blasted the party establishment in the state as well. 

"The Democratic establishment in Rhode Island has lost touch with what is going on in the party. Leadership seems to believe that Rhode Island Democrats are conservative, but Bernie won the primary by a considerable margin. Is it better to win a seat or are they going to stick with the good old boys network? Look at the N.Y. primary win by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Rhode Island Democratic leadership should understand times are changing, be honest with voters and run as the Republicans they are. In these political times, they cannot rely on uninformed voters. Having a D by your name isn’t an automatic vote anymore," said Siciliano. 

"Women and People of Color will not be silenced. If these women and People of Color don’t play ball ball with leadership, the Rhode Island Democratic leadership should change and not the other way around. Leadership’s choice to endorse conservative men over incumbent progressive women is tone deaf and telling of their misreading of the Rhode Island Democratic voter," said Siciliano. 

 
 

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