What to watch for in Tuesday’s primary

Sep 10, 2012

A few things to watch for tomorrow:

CICILLINE’S MARGIN OF VICTORY: Barring a big surprise, Congressman David Cicilline will enjoy a comfortable primary win over Democratic opponent Anthony Gemma. Gemma never seemed to gain traction in a campaign marked by overly broad accusations of voter fraud and curious moments. He significantly changed his message last week, adopting a more pragmatic approach of rapping Cicilline on jobs and trustworthiness; too little, too late, in all likelihood. So the primary instead becomes a Rorschach test for the incumbent; a 15 percentage point win would bolster his confidence, while a closer contest further gins up GOP hopes.

WHO”S BEST OUT OF THE CHUTE?: Republican CD1 candidate Brendan Doherty is smart to have a campaign watch event (in Pawtucket!) tomorrow night, since reporters will drift there in search of primary-night reaction. Although Cicilline looked a bit tired during last week’s WJAR debate, he remains a dogged campaigner and is unlikely to waste time in going after the Republican.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: One of two marquee legislative races, Laura Pisaturo’s challenge to Senate Judiciary chairman Michael McCaffrey, could send a big signal on the issue. Yet other races could also have an impact, including Gene Dyszlewski vs. Frank Lombardi in Cranston (Senate, district 26); Adam Satchell vs. Michael Pinga (Senate, district 9); and Lewis Pryeor vs. Marc Cote (Senate, district 24).

IMPACT BY LABOR AND OTHER INTEREST GROPS: Unions are talking up Robert DaSilva’s challenge to Senate Finance chairman Daniel DaPonte. Unseating a Finance chairman would be no small accomplishment. We’ll  believe it when we see it. 

VOTER ANGER: The general election in November will be the real test of whether simmering gripes about RI’s moribund economy translate into GOP gains. A primary with about 10 percent voting participation likely isn’t a good indicator of voter dismay. Still, do gripes about 38 Studios find an unexpected outlet?

IDENTITY POLITICS: Does a misplaced sense of Latino solidarity elevate Leo Medina over Joe Almeida after a series of negative headlines?

CAN RILEY PIVOT?: Republican CD2 candidate Michael Riley should have a relatively easy win tomorrow amid a four-candidate field, Kara Russo’s tough talk on the campaign trail notwithstanding. Riley’s ability to self-fund makes him a credible challenger to Congressman Jim Langevin. But it remains to be seen if the GOP candidate can elevate himself above paper tiger status. 

What are you watching for in the primary? Add your thoughts in comments