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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pluses and minuses for progressives in Tuesday primary


While there was no landslide for liberal State House candidates, Tuesday’s primary still proved to be a big victory for the progressive agenda.
Gayle Goldin easily beat charter school advocate Maryellen Butke in one of the most ballyhooed contests of the primary. Goldin’s victory ensures that Rhoda Perry’s former seat will stay in the hands of a true progressive.
West Warwick’s Adam Satchell, a supporter of marriage equality, collective bargaining rights and renewable energy, was another big win. He beat Michael Pinga, a foe of gay marriage, by a healthy margin.


But even more important is who lost. Woonsocket’s Jon Brien, an ALEC board member and one of the most conservative members of the General Assembly, fell to local firefighter Stephen Casey. While Casey could prove to be a good progressive, Brien was a sworn enemy of left and the legislature gets demonstrably more liberal with his absence.
While both Laura Pisaturo, of Warwick, and Bob DaSilva, of East Providence, lost, they both had strong showings and only lost to powerful incumbents by a total of of less than 300 votes. That doesn’t speak well for Michael McCaffrey or Dan DaPonte, who beat them, both who are committee chairmen and are in the good graces of leadership. Their votes may not change on marriage equality because of the nail-biting victories (though DaPonte was on the fence) others may swing once they see that even powerful incumbents can be vulnerable.
It wasn’t a great night for House leadership either. Peter Petrarca, the House Deputy Majority Leader, lost to Greg Costantino. And even more significantly, Rep. Spencer Dickinson, a fiscal progressive from South Kingstown, beat Kathy Fogarty, the chosen candidate of House Speaker Gordon Fox.
Popular progressives like Art Handy, Chris Blazejewski and Grace Diaz all won by comfortable margins.
But the primary wasn’t without it’s defeats for progressives as well. Gus Uht lost to conservative Karen MacBeth; Libby Kimzey lost to John Lombardi; and Frank Lombardi beat Gene Dyszlewski.
Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.