The deadline to declare candidacy for state and local offices has passed, and the race is on to qualify for the ballot.
Crowded fields have emerged for Town Council and School Committee seats in Narragansett, North Kingstown and South Kingstown, and a handful of incumbents have decided against seeking new terms.
In contrast, almost a third of Rhode Island’s legislative seats are on track to be uncontested in November, a trend that is visible in South County. Four of the 10 lawmakers who make up the local delegation to the General Assembly face no declared challengers for re-election. They are state Reps. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) and Blake A. Filippi (R-Dist. 36, Block Island, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly), and state Sens. V. Susan Sosnowksi (D-Dist. 37, Block Island, South Kingstown) and Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly).
North Kingstown Republican William W. Murphy has been nominated by the Rhode Island GOP to challenge Rep. Robert E. Craven Sr. (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown). Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) faces a primary challenge from Narragansett resident Joseph M. Manning, while Narragansett Republican Deborah Rowley has also declared her candidacy for the seat.
Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) is poised for a rematch with Narragansett resident Ewa M. Dzwierzynski, who mounted a primary challenge to Tanzi in 2016 and has filed to run for the seat as an independent this year. Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown) will seek a new term, with South Kingstown resident John Brandon Monk having filed to run for the seat as an independent.
On the Senate side, primary contests are shaping up in two races. Sen. James Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) faces a challenge from Narragansett Democrat Alana DiMario. John Silvaggio of Narragansett has also filed to seek the seat as a Republican.
“I originally sought office to restore the faith and promise that government may serve as an instrument for positive change. I am pleased to say that my belief has borne fruit …. It is an honor to serve my constituents in North Kingstown and Narragansett. As such, I respectfully request their support once more so that I may continue to make our Rhode Island a better place to live and work,” Sheehan said in a Tuesday press release.
“I am running … to create the kind of conversation in North Kingstown and Narragansett that can move our communities and our state forward,” DiMario said in a statement on her campaign’s Facebook page. “If I have a superpower, it’s that I can have a conversation with anyone, about anything – and I love to do it. Conversations are so powerful: sharing ideas, listening for new information, and challenging yourself to move forward is an essential part of progress, whether on a personal or societal level.”
Sen. Mark W. Gee (R-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, Narragansett, North Kingstown, South Kingstown) in late June announced he would not seek re-election to the seat he has held since 2015.
He has endorsed his wife, Republican Dana W. Gee, for the seat, and she has submitted paperwork to become a candidate. Two Democrats, Bridget G. Valverde of North Kingstown and Gregory J. Acciardo of East Greenwich, have also filed candidacy forms for the seat.
Elsewhere on the ballot, the field for the seat to which U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is seeking re-election has changed significantly. Patricia J. Fontes of Hopkinton has filed to challenge Whitehouse in the primary election, while Raymond T. McKay of Warwick plans an independent bid.
On the Republican side, former Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders appears almost certain to win his party’s nomination for the Senate seat. State Rep. Robert Nardolillo (R-Dist. 28, Coventry) has withdrawn from the race, and Flanders has received the Rhode Island GOP’s endorsement.
“I would like to commend Mr. Nardolillo, my Republican primary opponent, for his statesmanship and grace. He is a dedicated public servant with a bright future and Rhode Island will be well served by his leadership in the coming years,” Flanders said in a statement. “I congratulate him on a hard-fought campaign. I will continue to support with him the key issues that matter to conservatives and I thank him for his gracious support as we move forward.”
Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a wealthy businessman who has previously run for president under third-party banners and filed to run for U.S. Senate in several states, has also filed candidacy papers to seek Whitehouse’s seat as a Republican.
U.S. Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) faces a likely challenge from Republican Salvatore Caiozzo of West Greenwich as he seeks a new term representing the state’s Second Congressional District.
The field of potential gubernatorial candidates includes incumbent Gov. Gina M. Raimondo and fellow Democrats Spencer E. Dickinson of Wakefield and former Secretary of State Matthew A. Brown. Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung, businessman Giovanni Feroce and House Minority Leader Patricia L. Morgan (R-Dist. 36, Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) have all declared their candidacy for the Republican nomination. Former state Rep. Joseph A. Trillo, Rebecca L. McLaughlin and Luis Daniel Munoz have each declared their candidacy as independents, while William H. Gilbert has declared his candidacy under the Moderate Party banner and Anne Armstrong has filed to run under the Compassion Party banner.
The race presents the possibility of a rematch from 2016, when Raimondo edged Fung in a contest that saw the late Robert J. Healey Jr. win more than 20 percent of the vote after a late entry into the race.
Fung has recently received the backing of the North Kingstown and South Kingstown Republican town committees, as well as the backing of the Rhode Island GOP. Raimondo, meanwhile, has received the endorsement of the North Kingstown Democratic Town Committee.
“The North Kingstown Democratic Town Committee voted last night to proudly endorse Gina Raimondo’s re-election for Governor,” Sulina Mohanty, the committee’s chairwoman, said in a statement June 28. “Our members are grateful for everything she has done for our town and the state. We look forward to four more years of her leadership.”
The field of hopefuls for lieutenant governor grew significantly at the filing deadline. Incumbent Democrat Daniel J. McKee will seek a new term, and faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence) and William E. Beeley Jr.
Paul Pence is the sole Republican to file for the seat, following businessman Karl Wadensten’s announcement of his withdrawal from the race. Joel J. Hellmann has declared his candidacy under the Moderate Party banner, while Ross K. McCurdy, Jonathan J. Riccitelli and Zachary X. Ward have filed to run as independents.
Former U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha, a Jamestown resident, is running as a Democrat to succeed the departing Peter Kilmartin as attorney general. Charles Picerno has declared his candidacy for the seat as an independent, while Alan Gordon has filed paperwork under the Compassion Party banner.
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, a Democrat and North Kingstown resident, will seek a new term. Pat Cortellessa of Cranston has filed for the office on the Republican side.
General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, a Democrat, has also filed to seek re-election, and faces a challenge from Republican Michael G. Riley.
Candidates must next obtain the needed number of signatures on nomination forms from eligible registered voters. Those forms became available July 3 and must be returned to local boards of canvassers by July 16.
The primary election will be held Sept. 12, and the deadline to register to vote that day is Aug. 13. The general election is Nov. 6, with a registration deadline of Oct. 7.
For more information, visit vote.sos.ri.gov.