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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Election updates show even better results

Democrat Megan Cotter flips Justin Price’s seat

By Will Collette

It's over when the Fat Lady sings
The day before the Election, I looked up from my desk and saw a bald eagle swooping by, maybe 100 feet above the trees. Classic black body and pure white head. Beautiful. I wondered at the time whether this was an omen and, if so, of what? 

Reflecting on the Election, I now think the eagle’s appearance was an omen that things were going to turn out all right. From local races to the fight for control of Congress, the biggest losers were the pollsters, Donald Trump, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) and Republicans who were anticipating a big Red Wave while the rest of us were wondering if we’d still have a democracy on November 9. 

But we survived. In the weird politics of our sharply divided America, survival is a genuine victory, especially when the pollsters were predicting a Republican sweep. It helped that so many of the GOP candidates were MAGAnuts, charlatans and incompetents. 

As the last votes are counted, it looks like three progressive South County Democratic women – Tina Spears, Victoria Gu and Megan Cotter made the difference in dealing the state GOP a General Assembly defeat when they were predicting they would make substantial gains. 

It helped that Seth Magaziner won a hard-fought battle for House District 2 when all the pollsters had him losing and that state Democrats swept every state elected office.

Tina’s strong, positive campaign looked like a winner from the start to replace our unlamented, departed Blake “Flip” Filippi. 

Victoria Gu was one of two Rhode Island women to become the first Asian Americans elected to the Rhode Island Senate. To do that, she raised a ton of money and ran a sharp aggressive campaign. 

She beat two supposedly unbeatable Westerly pols, Town Council President Sharon Ahern in the primary and Caswell Cooke, a well-known politico who had lined up the support of dozens of Westerly celebrities to support his candidacy. 

Cooke expected to assume retired Sen. Dennis Algiere’s seat by divine right, except he came in an embarrassing third place behind a Trumplican who is in hock to the IRS for back taxes. It didn’t help that Cooke did not receive the expected endorsement from Dennis Algiere. 

Exeter Democrat Megan Cotter won a slim victory over right-wing nut Rep. Justin Price. She initially had a 4-vote lead, but as mail in ballots were counted, her lead grew to 29, enough to be called the victor everywhere except the Westerly Sun. Even the RI House Republican Caucus dropped Price’s from their membership list. 

The Sun ran a pro-Price piece focused on Price’s grievance that: 

“There is something wrong; this process needs to be reviewed…There are flaws in the system, and they need to be identified and addressed.”
Price didn’t tell the Sun what those flaws are, other than he lost. As if the stupidest member of the General Assembly would have a clue. Like the Trumplican he is, Price is expected to file for a recount. As a participant in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, perhaps Price is thinking of getting his militia friends to assault the State House. 

After he’s done whining, I hope Price will go back into his bomb shelter to polish his weapons and count the cans of beans he has stockpiled in case of a zombie apocalypse. 

November 15 was the last day to count ballots including those that were “cured” by voters who turned in faulty ballots. Under Rhode Island law, if you make a mistake on your ballot such as messing up your signature or “over-voting” for too many candidates, you are notified by the Board of Elections that you can fix your error – “cure” it – and resubmit. Theoretically, Price could still somehow win, but I doubt it. 

The Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) made its best effort to put lipstick on the pig: 

“Six out of eleven of the local candidates that CCA endorsed and supported in the November 8 election were elected. This is good news and we are grateful to the voters.

While the 6 out of 11 claim is true, the CCA got crushed on the big prize: control of the Town Council, holding only one seat out of five. This is the first time since 2008 that the CCA’s slate has failed to win. As I wrote before the election, all empires fall eventually, usually due to arrogance and corruption. So it goes with the CCA. 

Whether the new Charlestown Residents United (CRU) majority can overcome party differences and govern effectively remains to be seen. If they don’t, I would expect the CCA to try a comeback in 2024. 

Moving on to Block Island, I had reported that Steve Filippi, owner of Ballard’s and brother to our now ex-state representative Blake Filippi, was in danger of losing his bid to get elected to the Block Island Town Council even though he was running unopposed. 

He and Democratic incumbent Martha Ball were the only candidates to fill three open seats. On election Day, Martha Ball received 513 votes and Filippi got 92. But Block Island electors filed 1,061 write-in votes, making Filippi’s fate very questionable. 

As election workers went through the pile of write-ins to validate which were properly cast and to tally how many votes were awarded to each write-in candidate, the results changed. 

According to the Block Island Times, Democrat Martha Ball did come out first with 509 votes (she lost 4 in the validation process). She was followed by Molly O’Neill (369) and Neal Murphy (363) to fill out the three open seats. 

They were followed by two runners-up and finally by Steve Filippi in last place with the same 92 votes he had gotten on November 8. 

As the old saying goes, “decisions are made by those who show up.” That comes to running for office and showing up at the polls.