Dawn Euer, the Democratic upstart who won over three primary election rivals earlier this summer, easily won Tuesday’s special election to replace long-time State Senator M. Teresa Paiva Weed, who resigned her District 13 seat (Newport, Jamestown) in the spring to become executive director of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.
“Thank you to the voters of Jamestown and Newport for believing in our campaign; but most importantly I want to thank them for choosing me as to represent them in the State Senate. I also want to thank the hundreds of volunteers who turned out to talk to voters about our vision for the district and Rhode Island.
Euer, a lawyer, won every polling place in Newport and Jamestown to easily outdistance Republican Michael Smith, Independent Kim Ripoli, and Green Party candidate Gregory Larson.
Euer represents a significant victory for Planned Parenthood, with many members backing her candidacy. She has said she would support efforts to make Roe versus Wade the law in Rhode Island as a safeguard in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its previous ruling.
“Tonight’s win is a win for everyone who believes that we need to do more to create good paying jobs and help our small businesses thrive,” said Euer. “Who believes we deserve a government that is transparent and accountable to the people it serves. Who believes we need to do more to address climate change and preserve the open spaces that make our communities special. And who believes that our seniors deserve the ability to age in place with dignity”.
While the establishment Democratic party backed her rival, firefighter and School Committee Chair David Hanos, in the primary election, it got behind Euer in the special election. Her other primary election opponents were David Allard and Councilman Jon Florez.
“The voters have shown that people matter and that every voice and every vote are important. Now more than ever we must encourage people to get involved, to be a part of their community and to do their part to help make a difference. I’m looking forward to carrying this energy forward to the State House and being a voice for every Jamestown and Newport resident”, Euer concluded.
Earlier this evening during the process in which mail ballots were being counted at the RIBOE, 230 of 495 mail ballots were embargoed because they were reportedly notarized by the same person, citing Rhode Island state law 17-20-32.
Rhode Island state law 17-20-32 states; “Inquiry by board of elections, states that upon request of any candidate for public office and upon a showing of good cause for it or upon its own motion, the board of elections shall inquire into any notary public or witness who witnesses the voter signatures on more than fifty (50) mail ballot envelopes in any one election and any notary public or witness who the board has reason to believe has not complied with the provisions of this chapter. The inquiry shall attempt to determine whether the notary public or witness was actually present when the documents were signed by the voters and whether all other applicable requirements set forth in this chapter were complied with. Any criminal violation of this chapter uncovered by the board of elections shall be referred to the state police for further investigation”.
There will be an RIBOE hearing on Monday after which those mail ballots may be counted, according to Common Cause’s Executive Director John Marion. With the wide margin of victory in the unofficial results, those ballots and their pending outcome don’t appear that they would change the end result of this Special Election in any way.
Smith, who had run previously for the Senate seat and for state Representative, received staunch support from the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, an ultra-conservative group headed by Dave Stenhouse.
In an email blast last week, Stenhouse urged voters in Newport and Jamestown to turn back what he called a “Progressive-left agenda,” choosing an alternative instead, but never mentioning any of the candidates by name.
While Euer, Smith and Ripoli campaigned aggressively, the self-proclaimed Green Party candidate, Gregory Larson, seemingly disappeared. His campaign finance reports showed he neither raised any money, nor spent any. There is no mention of Larson’s candidacy on the Green Party’s website or on its Facebook page. He did not participate in debates during the primary and special elections, not even returning phone calls to debate organizers.
Paiva Weed, also a lawyer, was first elected to the state Senate in 1992, representing the 49th district, a position she held for a decade. With redistricting in 2001, the state Senate was reduced to 38 members, and Paiva Weed won a primary and then general election to secure the District 13 seat, which she held until her retirement from the Senate this spring.
Paiva Weed, who openly had supported Hanos in the primary election, rose in leadership over the years, elected Senate Majority Leader in 2004, a position she held for four years, until her election as Senate President. As Senate President, a position she held until her retirement, she was among the most powerful politicians in the state house.
According to the most recent data available (from October 25, 2016) from the Rhode Island Board of Elections (RIBOE), Jamestown has 1,643 active registered Democrat voters, 688 active registered Republican voters, 16 active registered Moderate voters and 2,298 active registered Unaffiliated voters. In Newport, there were 5,791 active registered Democrat voters, 1,966 active registered Republican voters, 64 active registered Moderate voters and 5,890 active registered Unaffiliated voters.