There won't be a Rhode Island Democratic Party in this year's hard-fought primary between Gina Raimondo, Angel Taveras, and Clay Pell.
In a note to Democratic state reps yesterday, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello writes, "In preparation for the Rhode Island Democratic Party's Endorsement Meeting on Sunday night, I wanted to inform you that the three major candidates for Governor have agreed to a 'no endorsement' from the party."
Although party endorsements are far less influential than in the past, the Democratic imprimatur could be significant in a race in which Taveras and Raimondo have been polling within the margin of error of one another. Pell has trailed behind the two front runners, but has strong financial resources to draw upon in the final months of the campaign, and attacks between Raimondo and Taveras could potentially boost Pell.
In his email, Mattiello writes that he met with the three leading Democratic candidates in recent days, "and they all believe this [lack of an endorsement] will be in the best interests of the party moving toward what we hope will be a great Democratic victory in November."
Democrats plan to gather Sunday evening at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The speaker traditionally has strong influence on the endorsement process since state committee members are elected through House districts.
The state party also skipped an endorsement in the 2002 gubernatorial primary between Sheldon Whitehouse, Myrth York and Tony Pires. York won the primary, but lost the general election to Republican Don Carcieri.
In 2010, Frank Caprio, now a candidate for treasurer, had the Democratic primary field to himself after then-AG Patrick Lynch folded his campaign. Caprio placed third in the race for governor, behind Lincoln Chafee, then an independent, and Republican John Robitaille.
Todd Giroux is also running in the Democratic race for governor.
Mattiello adds that he's supporting Ralph Mollis (over Dan McKee and Frank Ferri) for lieutenant governor, Caprio (over Seth Magaziner and Ernie Almonte) for treasurer, and Guillaume de Ramel (over Nellie Gorbea) for secretary of state, along with incumbent Senator Jack Reed, Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.
Rhode Island Republicans are staging their endorsement meeting June 26.