By Jim Ellis
Sept. 13, 2018 — The Ocean State conducted the final primary before the general election yesterday, and Gov. Gina Raimondo was successfully re-nominated in the Democratic primary. But her victory margin wasn’t particularly impressive.
Now, all states with the exception of Louisiana have held their federal nomination elections. Because the Bayou State leaders desire a system that allows candidates to win an office in one election – by obtaining majority support – such a procedure is only legally possible when that one election is scheduled concurrently with the regular general vote. For those who fail to achieve majority support, the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, advance into a Dec. 8 run-off to determine the final outcome.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Raimondo scored a 57-33 percent re-nomination victory percentage against former Secretary of State Matt Brown, with a turnout basis of just over 116,000 Democratic primary voters. Minor candidate Spencer Dickinson captured the remaining nine percent of the vote. The fact that almost 43 percent of Democratic voters chose a candidate other than their sitting governor is obviously not a good sign for her as Gov. Raimondo now embarks upon a general election campaign.
But her positive spin is that Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, was also the party nominee in 2014, win the Republican primary again last night. His victory percentage last night was virtually the same as the governor’s — about 56.5 percent — but from a small Republican voter base of just under 33,000 individuals. State House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, who was running to ung’s right, took 40 percent of the GOP vote.
Though he only lost to Raimondo by a five-percentage point spread in the general election four years ago, Fung’s 2014 vote total was only 36 percent. Gov. Raimondo won the election with just over 41 percent support, and the remaining 23 percent was divided among three independent candidates. Candidate Bob Healey, running on the Moderate Party ballot line, attracted 21 percent of the minor candidate vote.
While Healey is not returning, Moderate Party state chairman Bill Gilbert is on the ballot. Four other minor party candidates and independents are also in the race, including marijuana legalization activist Anne Armstrong, who is running on the Compassion Party line, and Joe Trillo (I), a former state representative who was President Trump’s Rhode Island state campaign chairman.
Therefore, when looking at this race in its entirety, and seeing that both the governor and Republican nominee have relatively weak political bases within their own parties, the independent and minor party candidates will attract a significant share of the general election gubernatorial vote. It is also again likely that the general election winner will claim the election with only plurality support.
The federal races proceed into the general election as expected. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) was re-nominated for a third term with a 77 percent vote performance in last night’s Democratic primary. In the House races, Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) won re-nomination for a fifth term with 78 percent of the primary vote. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) was unopposed last night as he runs for a tenth term. All of the federal Democratic incumbents face only minimal opposition in November.
Today in New York, voters are going to the polls to choose state nominees. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to win an easy re-nomination in the Democratic primary, but he is running as if he is repelling a strong political challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon.
The race that is important from a federal perspective is the attorney general’s Democratic primary. Should Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring/West Point) win the party nod in this statewide campaign, he will remove himself from the federal primary ballot, meaning his competitive 18th District would quickly become an open seat. Local Democrats would then have to quickly choose a replacement nominee to face Orange County legislator James O’Donnell who, all of a sudden, would have a chance to win the general election.