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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Election 2012: Who’s in?

Lively races ahead for southern RI General Election seats
By Will Collette

Won't have Todd Giroux to kick around anymore
Now that we’re well past the deadline for candidates to submit signatures to qualify to be on the ballot, it looks like all of Charlestown’s local candidates for town office have qualified. 

There will be no primary for any Charlestown town position – the campaign is on, heading for the November 6 Election Day.

The field for Congress thinned out a bit. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse faced a potential challenge from a very strange guy – Todd Giroux – who told the State Democratic Convention that he would be willing to give up his challenge to Whitehouse if the State Convention, instead, gave him the House District 68 seat. I’m not making this up – click here. Giroux failed to get enough signatures to qualify as a primary challenger to Whitehouse. As did four other no-hopers, leaving Barry Hinchley (R), the only challenger standing to face Sen. Whitehouse.

Giroux also failed to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot in Senate District 10.  Curiously, Giroux was not actually in the running in House District 68 – I guess if we take his demands at the State Convention seriously, he just wanted that seat given to him.

We'll be seeing a lot of these between now and September 11. Notr
so much afterwards
On the House side, we’ll be seeing a lot more Matson the Carpenter signs. He had enough signatures to qualify to run against endorsed incumbent Rep. Jim Langevin in the September 11 primary.

There will be a four-way Republican Primary race to pick who will run against Langevin in September. The endorsed front-runner is a Mini-Mitt hedge fund operator Michael Riley who is already spending his millions on TV advertising.

Riley’s centerpiece is a plan to dramatically expand oil, gas and coal extraction on all federal lands and to use the fees to “rescue” Social Security and Medicare. Several small problems with the Riley plan: federal extraction fees are low and Riley has taken the no-new-taxes pledge and can’t raise them.

Plus there isn’t enough coal, oil and gas to really make a difference, even if you got it all. Final problem – do we really want to drill and strip mine all our federal lands. Somebody on the Republican side ought to explain to Riley what happened here in Charlestown when there was even a hint of putting wind turbines near the National Wildlife Refuge.

Looking at the local races for General Assembly:

Cathie Rumsey for Senate District 34
In Senate District 34, CDTC-endorsed challenger Cathie Rumsey will take on the winner of the September 11 Republican Primary battle between incumbent Frank Maher and new-comer from Exeter Paul McFadden. Senate District 34 now includes almost all of Charlestown north of Route 1

Sen. Dennis Algiere (R, District 38) is running unopposed. Though most of his district lies in Westerly, his power base, Washington Trust Veep Algiere represents Charlestown South of One.

In the House, one of Charlestown’s long-time solicitors, Bob Craven, is running for House District 32 as the endorsed Democrat against whichever Republican emerges from the September 11 primary between incumbent Lawrence Earnhardt and Sharon Gamba.

In House District 34, which is mostly South Kingstown and Narragansett, progressive Democratic incumbent Teresa Tanzi will defend her seat from the winner of the Primary pitting mortgage banker Stephen Tetzner against Republican endorsed Christopher Wilkens.

Sen. Sue Sosnowski, Rep. Teresa Tanzi & Dalia at the
Charlestown Gallery last September
Senate District 37 pretty much covers the districts of Reps.  Donna Walsh and Teresa Tanzi and has been ably represented by Sen. Sue Sosnowski. Sue faces retired laudromat operator Lindy Lindholm, her Republican challenger, in the November election.

The District 35 race pits two progressive Democrats against each other in the Primary – Incumbent Spencer Dickinson versus endorsed Democrat Kathy Fogarty. Kathy is leaving the South Kingstown Town Council to challenge Spencer. Whoever wins will face the perennial Republican candidate James Haldeman. Haldeman’s main claim has been his role as de facto “Mayor” of Fallujah during the Second Iraq War.

Rep. Donna Walsh and Rep. Larry Valencia
District 36, Rep. Donna Walsh’s seat, is shaping up to be a three-way race pitting Donna against Tea Party Republican Tina Baker Jackson and political unknown Kevin Prescott, running as an Independent, who squeaked in with 50 signatures.

Incumbent Rep. Sam Azzinaro (D-37 which is almost entirely in Westerly) will return to the State House unopposed.

Finally, progressive Democratic incumbent Larry Valencia will face the winner of a Republican Primary fight between two Republicans, neither of them endorsed. Recent President of the controversial South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce Clay Johnson will face off against Michael Picillo who narrowly lost to Larry in 2010. Picillo’s family ran the infamous Picillo Pig Farm, one of Rhode Island’s worst toxic waste sites.

Larry used to represent the top half of Charlestown before redistricting. Because of his excellent record, the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee continues to support him.