Strong Primary Showing For Progressives — Hooray!

There may be hope for us yet. Last Tuesday progressive challengers unseated several incumbents in both chambers of the general assembly. (Let’s hope that Senate President Ruggerio gets the message. We can take care of Speaker Mattiello in November.) And while this new cohort does skew young — they achieved these remarkable victories the old-fashioned way — walking door-to-door and meeting with people! I am friends with a few of them on social media and they were out day after day, even during that heat wave. (A special shout-out to former state rep Aaron Regunberg who was out there constantly.)

Let’s hear from the people who write about politics for a living:

Ian Donnis of The Public’s Radio writes in With final results, progressives score a series of primary victories for RI general assembly:

One of the most notable primary wins was first-time candidate Cynthia Mendes’ defeat of Senate Finance Chairman Billy Conley of East Providence. Final results show that Mendes got 61.5 percent of the vote, in a district that also includes part of Pawtucket.

The other progressives winning Senate primaries were Tiara Mack, who defeated longtime Providence Sen. Harold Metts; Jonathon Acosta, who ousted Sen. Elizabeth Crowley of Central Falls; former Sen. Jeanine Calkin, who won her rematch with Sen. Mark McKenney, and Kendra Anderson, who won a hard-fought four-way primary in Warwick with 30.9 percent of the vote.

Well there’s a blessing — Metts is out! Anyone who has ever had to testify in front of his committee knows what a drag on good government he was — everybody knows, my authority is the Bible. I can’t wait to meet Tiara Mack to thank her.

Ted Nesi of WPRI writes in Progressives oust multiple incumbent lawmakers in RI Primary”:

Conley, D-East Providence, lost the Senate District 18 primary to Cynthia Mendes, who ran an energetic campaign across the district — which includes part of Pawtucket — introducing herself as a single mother who works two jobs. Conley simultaneously faced a fierce backlash in East Providence for working for the developer pushing the controversial Metacomet Golf Club redevelopment plan.

Mr. Conley can now return to the private sector. Attention general assembly: The people of Rhode Island are sick of this sort of self-dealing.

Nesi continues:

In Senate District 30, Warwick Sen. Mark McKenney lost to former Sen. Jeanine Calkin, a rematch of their primary two years ago, when Calkin lost to McKenney. Calkin is also a co-chair of the new Rhode Island Political Cooperative group that is working to elect more progressives.

There are some very effective grassroots groups out there, working hard to fix our state and local governments by installing Democrats who actually support Democratic principals.

Another shout-out goes to Reclaim RI who helped incumbent Senator Sam Bell and newcomer Leonela Felix to victory. (Yay!)

Senator Samuel Bell (District 5) said: “Reclaim RI’s kickass volunteers worked so hard. I cannot thank them enough.”

Democratic nominee for House District 61 Leonela Felix said: ”My campaign was powered by the people from the start, and I am grateful to Reclaim RI for their amazing support. Reclaim RI and I are both committed to winning a living wage for every working person, healthcare and housing as a right not a privilege, and the need for bold action on climate and racial justice.

The Rhode Island Board of Elections has the complete 2020 primary results with 100% of precincts reporting in. The final results were delayed by nearly two days as the Board of Elections worked to tabulate more than 38,000 mail ballots.

(This image is from the wall of the ballfield down in Fox Point. If the idea of a Blue Wave prevailing in a Democratic primary doesn’t quite make sense, you must be new to these parts. Many of our incumbents would be Republicans in any other state.)

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