Election Night Winners & Losers

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


With Rhode Island’s primary elections in the books, GoLocalProv breaks down the top winners and losers from Tuesday’s races.

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David Cicilline -> No one had a better than night than the incumbent Congressman in Rhode Island’s 1st District. Congressman Cicilline probably knew he would win Tuesday, but a 32-point trouncing of Anthony Gemma has to be concerning for Republican candidate Brendan Doherty. Cicilline has come a long way since his 14.8 percent approval rating earlier this year and it seems Gemma has given him some momentum heading into November.

Jim Langevin & Mike Riley -> To no one’s surprise, the two Congressional candidates in the 2nd District were comfortable winners as well last night. Congressman Langevin has held the seat since 2003 and is clearly the favorite in the race, but Riley is putting together a credible campaign and if, as he has indicated, he is willing to spend more than $1 million, he will certainly have the opportunity to run a competitive race.

Gordon Fox -> He lost a member of House leadership in Peter Petrarca, but it was still a successful night for the Speaker of the House. His longtime rival Rene Menard was finally ousted from office and three other newcomers he openly supported (Katherine Kazarian, Kenneth Marshall and Marvin Abney) all won their primaries Tuesday. Fox may clash with John Lombardi and Greg Costantino (if he is successful in the general election), but overall, he has to be pleased with how the primaries played out.

Michael McCaffrey -> The Senate Judiciary chairman got his first real challenge in years, but was able to hold off Laura Pisaturo, who had strong backing from the marriage equality group, Fight Back RI. It is no secret that McCaffrey’s name has been thrown around as a potential successor to Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed and the victory Tuesday likely solidifies his standing within Senate leadership.

Dan DaPonte -> Another member of Senate leadership who held on Tuesday evening. DaPonte withstood a challenge from the union-backed Roberto DaSilva, which means Senate President Paiva-Weed will likely have her entire team in place come 2013. This District 14 race went back-and-forth, but DaPonte was able to eek it out with a 53-47 victory.

John Lombardi -> The former Mayor and Council President knocked off incumbent Mike Tarro and progressive Libby Kimzey in the closely watched House District 8 Democratic primary. Kimzey put up a strong fight (and might have fared even better had Tarro chosen not to run) but in the end, Lombardi had too much name recognition this time around.

Spencer Dickinson -> He still faces a tough challenge in the general election, but Rep. Dickinson’s win over Kathleen Fogarty was a major surprise Tuesday. You have to wonder if that candid letter he sent his constituents, which some treated as a concession letter, actually made folks in his community change their minds and support the union-backed incumbent.


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Anthony Gemma -> Only picking up 30 percent of the vote against David Cicilline was a major blow for a campaign that really never picked up much steam. Gemma never ran television commercials and focused far too much on the voter fraud claims and not enough on his original message (jobs) to be a viable candidate in the race.

Marriage Equality -> Marriage equality supporters seemed to solidify their standing in the House, but only unseating one Senator (Michael Pinga) means getting same-sex marriage passed next year is going to be incredibly difficult. House Speaker Gordon Fox still maintains that he’ll call for a vote in his chamber early in the session, but the major opposition has always been in the Senate.

Jon Brien -> Perhaps the biggest upset of the night. The Woonsocket Rep. was unseated by Stephen Casey while Rep. Lisa Baldelii-Hunt (another member of the Woonsocket delegation thought to be in trouble) cruised to victory. Brien had served as chairman of the Municipal Government committee and despite being one of the more conservative Democrats in the House, was also considered among the most influential lawmakers in the chamber.

Rene Menard -> The retired firefighter first won his seat in 1988, but Rep. Menard finally went down Tuesday to Cumberland Councilwoman Mia Ackerman. Menard had been targeted in the past by House leadership, but this time he was hurt by a redrawn district that many believed was designed specifically to remove him from office.

Peter Petrarca -> The Deputy House Majority Leader thought for sure he was going to win Tuesday, but he ended up losing by 20 points to Greg Costantino, the businessman and brother of former House Finance chairman Steven Costantino. Petrarca struggled in his general election race in 2010 and it appears as though his hard work in this year’s primary may have been too little, too late for a district that had long been unhappy with its Rep.

Stephen Tetzner -> The Republican in District 34 spent more than $40,000 in his primary to lose by 13 points to Chris Wilkens. Tetzner was considered a formidable challenger for first-term Democrat Teresa Tanzi in the general election, but he clearly didn’t have the solid base that Wilkens, a Narragansett Councilman, had.


Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.


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