Politics
2:38 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Easy wins and some upsets in RI primary

PROVIDENCE, RI –

Note: Click the audio icon to hear analysis from RIPR's Scott MacKay

1st Congressional District Race
Providence businessman Anthony Gemma lost badly Tuesday in his effort to wrest the democratic nomination from first term Congressman David Cicilline. The final, unofficial results show Cicilline garnered 62 percent of the vote to Gemma's 31 percent, with perennial candidate Christopher Young coming in a distant third.

Cicilline delighted an enthusiastic crowd of supporters at the Blaze restaurant with a commanding victory over Gemma.

Cicilline praised his Republican opponent, Brendan Doherty, as a good man. But Cicilline said Doherty's Republican ideas are at odds with what's good for Rhode Islanders. The Democrat criticized Doherty's stances on issues like Social Security and Medicare, and said he looks forward to meeting Doherty in vigorous discussion on those issues.

Doherty isn't wasting any time in planning to return fire at Cicilline. The Republican former superintendent of the state police has a news conference scheduled for East Providence Wednesday morning.

At the Grand Restaurant on Atwells Avenue in Providence, where a little after 9:00pm Tuesday, Anthony Gemma conceded defeat to Congressman David Cicilline in the Democratic primary. "I trust that you will accept the will of the voters as I have accepted it tonight with regret," said Gemma.

This was Gemma's second loss to Cicilline in two years. Gemma self-funded both campaigns, he says he spent more than $500,000 of his personal fortune in this latest bid. Gemma says he has no regrets about leveling serious accusations of voter fraud against Cicilline in the last two weeks of the campaign but conceded that the explosive allegations had not resonated with voters. He refused to call Cicilline to congratulate him and said he would not support the incumbent in November.

State Senate Races
One of the most important Democratic primary races was in Warwick. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Michael McCaffrey held on to his seat. McCaffrey gleaned 53 percent of the vote, beating Laura Pisaturo who received 47 percent. McCaffrey is part of Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed's leadership team, and Paiva Weed is seen as the main obstacle to passing same-sex marriage legislation on Smith Hill. Pisaturo is a lesbian, and she got a lot of support from advocates of same-sex marriage.

State Senator Daniel DaPonte of East Providence, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, survived a primary challenge by State Representative Robert DaSilva. But it was very close, with just one percentage point separating the two candidates.

In the Senate race for Providence's eastside, unofficial results show Gayle Goldin beat Maryellen Butke with 58 percent of the vote. The two were battling over the senate seat vacated by longtime eastside Democrat Rhoda Perry. This was Butke's first run at elected office.

"We were really coming from behind in terms of both timing and support and endorsements with the democratic party," says Butke. "And even with that we certainly had a hard-fought campaign"

Butke says the door-to-door campaigning has her thinking about running again for elected office.

In the state senate seat for Cranston's Nightsville section left open by Beatrice Lanzi, unofficial results show Frank Lombardi beat Gene Dyszlewski with 74 percent of the vote.

State House Races
An upset in Woonsocket, with unofficial results showing incumbent Rep. Jon Brien lost his seat to newcomer Stephen Casey who squeaked out a victory. Brien blocked a request by Woonsocket leaders for a 13 percent supplemental tax to keep it from falling into bankruptcy. He doesn't think that position cost him his seat.

"No one expects to lose, you know, I thought I'd do better," says Brien. "But we'll, you know, take it one day at a time and see what happens next."

State Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt also blocked the Woonsocket supplemental tax, but she held on to her seat with 64 percent of the vote. She beat back Michael Morin who got 29 percent and Stuart Gitlow who received 7 percent of the vote.

On Providence's south side, unofficial results show incumbent Leo Medina lost his seat to challenger Joseph Almeida, who received 65 percent of the vote. Medina made headlines last month when he pleaded not guilty to charges that he passed himself off as an attorney when he didn't have a license.

Representing Providence's Westside, Federal Hill and Armory district, Michael Tarro lost his seat to John Lombardi. Lombardi received 53 percent of the vote, newcomer Elizabeth Kimzey gleaned 35 percent and Tarro received 12 percent.

In South Kingstown, incumbent Spencer Dickinson held on to his house seat with 53 percent of the vote, challenger Kathleen Fogarty garnered 47 percent.

In Bristol, Warren unofficial results show Kenneth Marshall won the open House seat there with 63 percent of the vote. In Middletown, Newport Marvin Abney beat David Carlin Jr for the open seat there. And in the republican primary in North Kingston, incumbent Laurence Ehrhardt lost to Sharon Gamba who garnered 51 percent of the vote.

In the House seat representing Johnston, Lincoln and Smithfield, incumbent Peter Petrarca lost his seat to Gregory Costantino with Costantino gleaning 60 percent of the vote.

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