Primary Sets Stage for November Election - September 14th 2022
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
September 14th 2022
RICHMOND – Voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary was light. Of Richmond’s 6,286 eligible voters, 967, just over 15%, cast their ballots. Of those, 203 residents voted early and 87 voters applied for mail ballots, however, the actual mail ballot results will not be tallied until the end of the week.
Only 747 people voted in person. Town Administrator Karen Pinch put much of the blame for a lower in-person turnout on the rainstorm.
“It’s disappointing that after all the dry weather we’ve had, the monsoon had to come on primary day,” she said. “Unfortunately, I think that affected in-person voter turnout.”
There weren’t any big surprises for Richmond voters in Tuesday’s primary, however there were a few notable margins of victory for some candidates.
Democratic incumbent Gov. Dan McKee narrowly defeated Helena Buonanno Foulkes by just over two percentage points in the Democratic primary.
McKee will face Republican Ashley Kalus in the general election in November after Kalus soundly defeated Jonathan Riccitelli in the Republican primary.
McKee, the former Lieutenant Governor, was appointed Governor a year and a half ago to replace former Gov. Gina Raimondo, who was named U.S. Commerce Secretary.
Vying to replace retiring Congressman James Langevin in District 2 are Republican Allan Fung, the former Mayor of Cranston who was unchallenged in the primary, and Democrat and current General Treasurer, Seth Magaziner, who soundly defeated five primary challengers.
In the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, Sabina Matos defeated two challengers and will face Republican Aaron Guckien.
In Senate District 34, Jennifer Douglas is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Elaine Morgan, who is seeking a fifth term.
In District 39, Democrat Megan Cotter is once again challenging Republican incumbent, Rep. Justin Price, who is also hoping to win a fifth term.
All four candidates were unchallenged in the primary, but in District 39, there’s a third, unaffiliated candidate, Sean Patrick Comella, running against Cotter and Price.
Kristen Chambers, a member of the Richmond Democratic Town Committee, said Cotter stands a good chance of beating Price this year, especially if Comella syphons off some of the conservative vote.
“I think she’s going to crush him,” she said. “You know, there is that third Independent, Comella, so hopefully, the votes between him and Price will really send Megan to the top.”
Richmond Republican Town Committee Chair Louise Dinsmore acknowledged that Comella would have an impact on the campaign but she noted that the committee was standing firmly behind Price.
“They’re all working really hard and I really do applaud them, because the Democratic process is important to all of us,” she said. “I think whomever would get elected among the three of them would give a voice to ‘We the People,’ and I appreciate their hard work on the campaign trail. We’re supporting Justin Price. He’s the incumbent. He’s the Republican, he has conservative values that are in line with our conservative values as a local GOP committee.”
Dinsmore also praised both Price and Cotter for their diligent grassroots campaigning.
“Megan is working really hard, and so is Justin,” she said. “They’re both going door to door, they’re bringing their message directly to the voters, which is, I think what every good candidate needs to do, is go door to door and meet the voters one on one, ask the voters what’s important to them and talk about how they would represent them at the State House. I tip my hat to Justin and to Megan.”
In the Morgan-Douglas race, Chambers predicted that voters unhappy with Republican policies will boost the Democrats and support Douglas.
“I am hoping that with all that the Republicans are doing and all that Morgan is not doing, or doing, to take away other people’s rights, in my view, is going to mean a win for Jen this time,” she said. “She’s got more name recognition now and she’s on the right side of what of what I’m looking for – voting rights, reproductive rights, climate.”
“Ms. Douglas is a progressive,” Dinsmore said. “She should represent herself as such. Elaine is a conservative. They have very different thoughts and ideas about ideas that impact voters and their constituents.”
Chambers countered that being a progressive is something to be proud of.
“If you’re not progressive, then you’re regressive,” she said. “Progressive is not a dirty word. It means that you’re standing up for the rights of all citizens. You’re not putting the corporate interests first.”
Both Dinsmore and Chambers are optimistic about their parties’ prospects in November, even if the parties are miles apart on the issues.
Democrats’ concerns include gun control, reproductive rights, voting rights and climate change, and on the local level, education.
Those broader issues, Chambers said, are attracting more voters to the Richmond Democrats.
“In the Richmond Democratic Town Committee, we’ve really increased our membership. I can’t say offhand whether it’s been doubled or tripled,” she said.
Republicans are keeping their campaign laser - focused on fiscal issues, especially taxes, although they, too, have taken positions on the Chariho Regional School District, including the schools budget.
“We’re hearing loudly and clearly from the taxpayers that they’re looking to elect local leaders who are going to evaluate every decision from a budgetary, fiscal responsibility standpoint,” Dinsmore said. “Holding the line on taxes.”
The campaign is now expected to kick into high gear in the 10 weeks leading up to the election.