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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

PRIMARY RESULTS: Do Parties Matter, Part 3

UPDATED: the Outcome of the Vote in the September 11 Primary
By Will Collette

Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here

At 10 PM, with 100% of the vote counted, the unofficial results are big wins for Rep. Jim Langevin over Matson the Carpenter (a 3 to 1 margin) and Rep. David Cicilline over Anthony "I've got a secret" Gemma by a 2-1 margin.

I'd expect Matson will save all his signs for the next time.

Mega-millionaire right-wing hedge fund guy Michael Riley easily defeated three Republican opponents and will face Rep. Langevin and independent Abel Collins on Nov. 6.

Local races of interest:
Crossbow fan and incumbent state Senator Frank Maher (R) easily won his District 34 primary, 77.4% to 22.6% and will face CDTC-endorsed Cathie Rumsey on November 6.

Former SK Chamber of Commerce prez Clay Johnson squeaked out a win in the District 39 Republican House primary, 54.8% to 45.2% and will face CDTC-supported incumbent Rep. Larry Valencia.

In House District 34, GOP-endorsed Chris Wilkens beat wealthy mortgage banker Steven Tetzner by just over 12 percent and will face Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D) in November.

In one of the few South County Democratic primaries, in the neighboring House District 35, incumbent Rep. Spencer Dickinson eked out a 27 vote win over SK Town Councilor Kathy Fogarty. Spencer's margin of victory is 5.2%. He faces a tough fight in November against perennial Republican challenger James Haldeman.

On Tuesday, September 11, it’s time to go to the polls and cast your ballot to determine who will be the Democratic or Republican candidates in contested races. Even if you are registered as “unaffiliated,” you can still cast a ballot, although by voting in one party’s or the other’s primary, you automatically become designated as a member of that party. You can disaffiliate after you vote.

Polls are open today until 8 PM. There are four polling places in Charlestown today - find out whether you are properly registered and where to vote by clicking here. Just get out there and do your duty.

Or, if you don’t think parties matter, you can sit it out, wait to see who wins the primary and then decide who you want to vote for on November 6.

"Vote for me because I have the most signs?
Or because I care?"
At the top of the ticket are the hot contests for the US House of Representatives. While all attention seems to be glued to the battle between Rep. David Cicilline and Anthony “I’ve got a smoking pistol” Gemma locked in battle for the Democratic First District honors, Rep. Jim Langevin, our Second District member of Congress, is in a primary with perennial candidate Matson the Carpenter.

John Matson runs for office every two years – often for a different office, sometimes as a Democrat, often as an independent, sometimes as a Republican. He seems to be a pleasant guy with a sense of humor and lots of time on his hands to make his ubiquitous signs.

If you go to his website and try to figure out why he’s running, you’ll get this: “I am Running because I Care!” I don’t know if he got this from Lisa DiBello, or she got it from him.

Beyond that, I can’t figure out why else he’s running, except that’s what he does. He conveys the sense that he’s a patriotic guy and wants “change,” but that’s about it.

Michael Riley - drill for oil and gas in National
Forests and Wildlife Refuges to pay for Medicare
On the Republican side, there are four candidates running. The lead contender is uber-right hedge fund manager Michael Riley who thinks the solution to the finances of Social Security and Medicare is to open up federal lands to mining and extraction of oil and gas, and to use the pitifully low royalties the federal government charges for mineral leasing rights to fund these programs. I’m not making this up – click here.

With ideas and math like that, it’s no wonder hedge funds were a major contributor to the Wall Street crash that started our long and deep Recession. Riley says he will spend “whatever it takes” from his large, personal fortune to win.

Riley’s competition in the Second District Republican primary includes Michael Gardiner, Donald Robbio and Kara Russo. Russo is another perennial candidate. She and her long-time fiancĂ© Chris Young (who is running against Cicilline in the First District, even though he and Russo share the same address), have been eccentric, colorful fixtures in the fringe of Rhode Island politics for years.

I think I saw the sum-total of Michael Gardiner’s campaign last week while driving down Division Street in East Greenwich. Gardiner was standing on the side of the road holding one of his signs and waving. I have no idea what Donald Rubbio is doing in this race.

There are no town-level races in Charlestown. The town Democratic slate is unchallenged. The Republicans did not field any candidates. The Moderate Party could have had Councilor Dan Slattery, who has served as a state Moderate Party Treasurer until 2011[1], there are less than half a dozen Charlestown voters registered as Moderates[2] (Slattery is one of them), so Slattery is running for re-election under the CCA banner.

There is a Republican contest for who will run against Cathie Rumsey, the endorsed Democratic candidate for Senate District 34 which covers nearly all of Charlestown north of Route One.

No longer regulated, thanks to Frank Maher
Incumbent Frank Maher is running against Exeter school committee member Paul McFadden. McFadden has no campaign treasury. Maher has his sterling record of having gotten four bills passed in his legislative career – one to ban the three knock-down rule in boxing, the other to de-regulate crossbows. He does seem to have some peculiar priorities.

There is a Republican primary to pick a challenger to Rep. Larry Valencia, pitting two controversial GOPers against each other. One is Michael Picillo, whose family ran the infamous Picillo Pig Farm toxic waste site, against Clay Johnson, recent President of the South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce, which pissed off every other town in South County by calling itself the Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.
Toxic waste at the Picillo Farm

Two Republicans are fighting it out in the primary to run against popular Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-District 34, South Kingstown/Narragansett). One is self-financed Stephen Tetzner who is dipping heavily into his family’s mortgage bank business to pay for his campaign. Like right wingnut Congressional candidate Michael Riley, Tetzner seems to be willing to spend “whatever it takes to win,” not to mention tell any lie.

Tetzner’s primary opponent is the Republican-endorsed candidate, Christopher Wilkens.

Finally, in the neighboring House District 35 (South Kingstown), two Democrats are battling for the party nomination – incumbent Spencer Dickenson and SK town councilor Kathy Fogarty. Democrats in South Kingstown have been undergoing a factional battle for a while, and this contest is one major by-product.

The winner will face Republican James Haldeman who seems to run every two years. Haldeman’s main qualification for the job is that, while a Marine Corps colonel, he was de facto “Mayor” of Fallujah in Iraq. While South Kingstown may have its problems, IEDs and snipers do not seem to be among them.

[1] Without fanfare, Moderate Party founder Ken Block took over the Treasurer job from Slattery in February 2011

[2] In 2010, Tom Browning ran as a Moderate Party candidate against State Rep. Donna Walsh (D-36, Charlestown, SK, Westerly and Block Island) and got his ass kicked. He lost every precinct in the District to Donna, including his own. This year, Browning is running as a Moderate for SK Town Council, one of only four Moderate Party candidates in the entire state.