Democrat Sandra Cano scored a decisive win over Republican Nathan Luciano Tuesday in a special election for an open Rhode Island Senate seat in Pawtucket.
Unofficial figures from the state Board of Elections show Cano received 729 votes, compared with 269 for Luciano.
The District 8 seat became open when James Doyle, first elected in 2004, resigned in January while citing a personal battle with alcohol.
“I am overwhelmed by the support Pawtucket voters have shown me, during this special election and in tonight’s win,” Cano said in a statement released by the state Democratic Party. “It is a great honor to be elected to serve as their state senator, and to take on the challenges that face our city and state at this time. Senate Democrats and the leadership have been so supportive of my bid for office: I promise to bring the same commitment to community that I have given these many years as a Pawtucket elected leader."
Cano came to Rhode Island from Colombia as a teenager. She emerged in 2014 as the first Latina elected to the Pawtucket City Council and the top vote-getter in a race for an at-large City Council seat.
She ran with support from Senate Democrats and progressive groups like Rhode Island Working Families.
"We’re sending working families advocates to Providence to do the people’s business,” Georgia Hollister Isman, state director of Rhode Island Working Families Party, said in a statement. “Candidates voicing a bold, populist vision that puts people first are motivating voters to polls and getting elected.”
Isman said Cano has advocated strong protection for workers and has supported women, youth, and seniors with her policies.
Fewer than 10 percent of eligible voters participated in the election, and Cano's win in an overwhelmingly Democratic community like Pawtucket was unsurprising. Some out-of-town Democrats nonetheless pointed to her victory as part of a swelling wave of support for Democrats across the country.
Cano will be the 13th female member of the 38-member Senate. Her swearing-in will be scheduled after votes in the special election are certified by the Board of Elections.