10 Most Expensive Primary Races in RI

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


With less than a week to go before the Sept. 11 primary, GoLocalProv breaks down the ten most expensive primary races of 2012.

1) House District 44: Peter Petrarca & Gregory Costantino (Democrats)

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The incumbent calls his opponent the ultimate insider who has watched his family get rich thanks to connections in the city of Providence and throughout the state. The challenger labels the incumbent a gun-toting nightclub owner who voted against making indoor prostitution illegal and has pushed legislation that benefits his family.

It’s one of the ugliest races of 2012. It’s also the most expensive.

House Deputy Majority Leader Peter Petrarca and challenger Gregory Costantino have combined to spend $67,781.71 in their primary battle so far, with Petrarca dropping $43,580.55 on the race. The majority of spending on both sides comes from printing, advertising and consulting costs. Costantino has retained Quest Research as his pollster.

The winner will take on Republican James Archer.

Largest Expense in 2012
Petrarca: $8,200 with Lamar Signs
Costantino: $4,000 on consulting with Paul St. Germain & $4,000 with the Valley Breeze

2) House District 8: Michael Tarro, John Lombardi & Libby Kimzey (Democrats)

In one of the most talked-about races of the year, challengers John Lombardi and Libby Kimzey appear to have the upper hand over incumbent Michael Tarro, but the three combined to spend $64,409.86 as of Tuesday evening.

Tarro won comfortably in 2010, but Lombardi, a former Council President and Mayor of Providence, is well-respected on Federal Hill and was endorsed by the Providence Teachers Union. Kimzey meanwhile has the support of Mayor Angel Taveras as well as Marriage Equality RI, Planned Parenthood, Ocean State Action and Clean Water Action.

Largest Expense in 2012
Tarro: $2,430 at Spirito’s Restaurant
Lombardi: 4,770.06 with Regine Printing
Kimzey: $3,550.25 with Checkmate Consulting

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3) Senate District 14: Daniel DaPonte & Roberto DaSilva (Democrats)

In one of the most hotly contested races this year, the two popular East Providence Democrats have combined to spend $61,100.97. DaPonte, the Senate Finance chairman, has the support of EngageRI thanks to his role in passing pension reform last year while DaSilva, a current State Rep., has picked up significant support from unions who are happy he voted against pension reform.

Largest Expense in 2012
DaPonte: $9,945.77 with Bridge Communications
DaSilva: $2,710 at the Riviera Inn

4) Senate District 26: Frank Lombardi & Gene Dyszlewski (Democrats)

In the race to replace Senator Bea Lanzi, School Committee member Frank Lombardi and progressive Gene Dyszlewski have spent $51,276.89 with less than a week before the Democratic primary. Lombardi made headlines late last year when he came out in favor of the controversial prayer banner at Cranston West. Dyszlewski has earned the support of Marriage Equality RI, Planned Parenthood and the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats.

And don’t expect the spending to stop after Sept. 11. The winner will take on hard-working Republican Sean Gately, who lost by just 3.4 percentage points to Lanzi in 2010.

Largest Expense in 2012
Lombardi: $7,000 at Amedeo Restaurant & Lounge
Dyszlewski: $2,953.98 at Sir Speedy

5) Senate District 29: Michael McCaffrey & Laura Pisaturo (Democrats)

Incumbent Michael McCaffrey, the Senate Judiciary chairman, is widely considered to be one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to passing same-sex marriage and now he has his most serious challenger in years in attorney Laura Pisaturo, who has the full support of Marriage Equality RI. The two have combined to spend $48,016.51 with less than a week before the Democratic primary.

Largest Expense in 2012
McCaffrey: $5,865.00 with Bridge Communications
Pisaturo: $3,600.91 with Checkmate Consulting

6) House District 34: Steven Tetzner & Christopher Wilkens (Republicans)

The only Republican primary to crack the top 10 only does so because Steven Tetzner has already poured nearly $42,000 into the race. Tetzner should cruise to victory on Tuesday, but then he’ll take on Democratic incumbent Teresa Tanzi, who will almost certainly have every progressive group in the state going to bat for her.

Largest Expense in 2012
Tetzner: $3,801.44 with Payden & Company
Wilkens: No expenses listed

7) Senate District 5: Paul Jabour & Maura Kelly (Democrats)

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Longtime Senator Paul Jabour and newcomer Maura Kelly have combined to spend $40,280.48 on their primary race so far. Jabour, who once challenged Buddy Cianci for Mayor of Providence, is considered the favorite, but Kelly has the support of education reformers (she was endorsed by RI-CAN) and considers General Treasurer Gina Raimondo her mentor.

Largest Expense in 2012
Jabour: $2,346.45 with T G S (an advertising company)
Kelly: $4,467.28 with Petel and Company

8) House District 52: Karen MacBeth & Augustus Uht (Democrats)

It’s not one of the most talked-about races of the year, but the Democrats running for State Rep. seat in District 52 have already spent $33, 297.69 so far. Incumbent Karen MacBeth, a conservative Democrat won pretty comfortably in 2010, but Uht has poured more than $29,000 into the race and has the support of Planned Parenthood. The winner will have no opponent in November’s General Election.

Largest Expense in 2012
MacBeth: $1,040.19 with Connolly Printing
Uht: 2,538.75 with the Valley Breeze

9) Senate District 3: Maryellen Butke & Gayle Goldin (Democrats)

The race to replace longtime Senator Rhoda Perry on Providence’s East Side has cost the two Democratic candidates $32,495.57. Maryellen Butke made a name for herself in Rhode Island as the head of the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now (RI-CAN) and has picked up campaign contributions from developer Buff Chace, Alan Hassenfeld and Joel Klein of News Corp. Goldin is the endorsed candidate in the race and has the support of Mayor Taveras, Rep. Edith Ajello and Rep. Chris Blazejewski.

Largest Expense in 2012
Butke: $9,702 with Petel and Company
Goldin: 3,190.00 with Winning Connections

10) House District 45: Rene Menard & Mia Ackerman (Democrats)

With significant changes to his district and a House leadership clearly targeting him, longtime Rep. Rene Menard faces his toughest challenge yet against Cumberland Councilwoman Mia Ackerman. The two have combined to spend $27,310.90 and Ackerman recently picked up an endorsement from RI-CAN. Menard, who voted against pension reform last year, has the financial support of most major unions, but he may need their get-out-the-vote experience on Tuesday.

Largest Expense in 2012
Menard: $1,593.64 at Lancellotta's Restaurant
Ackerman: $2,188 with the Valley Breeze


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


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