On Sept. 28 the Political Scene page one column in the Providence Journal headlined “R.I. Senate race a test of the suburbs.” Most of the weekly article focused on the three-way race for the Senate district 36 seat being vacated by James Sheehan (D).
There is a large photo of Republican Doreen Costa campaigning door-to-door in North Kingstown. She is a former Town Council member and served three terms in the House representing North Kingstown and part of Exeter. Costa is known as an aggressive campaigner after she defeated long-time Democrat Repetitive Ken Carter.
Ms. Costa has a record of reaching across the political aisle. In the Democrat-controlled House she was named to a leadership position as vice-chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee –usual for a member of the minority party- and was a member of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee. She sponsored anti-sex trafficking and co-sponsored bills that require voter ID and eliminated the onerous “master lever,” bills favored by a majority of Rhode Islanders.
The newspaper reports that Costa has already reached out to Senate President Dominick Ruggierio to express her support if he wins reelection.
Aiana DiMario is running as a Democrat although she describes herself as a member of the far-left Working Families Party. The progressive movement is calling for Ruggerio’s ouster as head of the state Senate.
DiMario tried to unseat Sheehan two years ago. In the September primary she trounced former NK town council member Ellen Waxman 75%-25%. She lives in Narragansett which composes only two of the eight precincts of the district.
Ms. DiMario is a mental health counselor with no track record in elected or appointed office.
A group called “thewomxnproject.org” is sending out a postcard excoriating Costa as being “way out of touch with Rhode Island values” for her pro-life view. DiMario is apparently pro-abortion rights.
There is no photo of independent candidate Matthew Mannix campaigning in the district. He is currently president of the non-partisan Narragansett town council.
Independents seldom win elections and often serve as spoilers. Without the candidacy of Bob Healey, Republican Alan Fung would have defeated Gina Raimondo in her first run for governor. Other exceptions include NK town councilman Kevin Maloney, who runs as an independent and, of course, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
The intriguing question is whether Mannix, who leans conservative, will siphon more votes from conservative Costa or fellow Narragansett resident DiMario.
Alana DiMario would be a disruptive force on Smith Hill going in with a proverbial chip on her shoulder against a powerful Democrat leader of the chamber if he wins reelection.
Matthew Mannix would be a non-entity as a freshman independent and would have to decide whether to caucus with the majority or side with the small minority.
I urge you for Doreen Costa, a fiscal conservative and experienced elected official, who has shown she can work in a bipartisan manner and get things done for the district.
Richard J. August