The race to replace Teresa Paiva Weed in the State Senate (District 13) is on, and if you’re scoring by money in the bank, Newport Councilman and businessman John Florez takes the early lead, and if you’re scoring by grassroots donors, the winner is lawyer Dawn Euer.
That, according to the May 1 financial filings with the state Board of Elections, representing the first quarter of 2017, ending March 31. It’s logical to also believe that in the past month candidates have been ramping up their fundraising efforts. The primary election is scheduled for July 18, and the special election for August 22.
Meanwhile, Paiva Weed has left her powerful Senate position to begin her new job as executive director of the Rhode Island Hospital Association. And, according to her May 1 filing, her campaign account has grown substantially, leaving her with considerable funds that she’s allowed to donate to charities, other political campaigns, or return to donors. But more on Paiva Weed later. Here’s a look at the five announced candidates, four Democrats, and one Republican.
John Florez, the founder of Drupal Connect and in his second term on the Newport City Council, lists $50,461.76 as a cash balance in his campaign account as of the end of March, a dramatic increase from the $5,207.11 he reported for the end of December. All of that comes from loans he apparently has given his campaign, according to the report, the most recent $50,000. The report also lists total liabilities of $77,161.76, including $26,700 in loans payable at the end of December 2016. According to a schedule of loans listed in reports, those loans were made from June 20, 2014 to March 23, 2017. The report does not include any activity for April.
Michael Smith, owner of Industry Electric Inc. and an unsuccessful state Senate candidate in 2014 as a Republican and unsuccessful independent candidate for state Representative last year, shows cash of $30.64 as of the May 1 report, representing the first quarter of 2017, ending March 31. The report also shows liabilities of $4,100. Smith is the lone announced Republican candidate, and therefore would not face a primary election in July.
Democrat David Hanos, a Newport firefighter for 23 years and chair of the Newport School Committee, reported a cash balance of $685.39 for the first quarter of 2017, with liabilities of $383.41.
Dawn Euer, a lawyer and Democrat, just announced that she has raised more than $20,000 from grassroots donors since she announced her candidacy on March 24. That would indicate a robust April fundraising, in which she would have doubled what she reported for the first quarter, ending March 31. In that report, she showed a beginning balance (as of Jan. 1) of zero and ending balance (as of March 31) of $10,492. The report shows campaign contributions from a wide range of donors of $10,055 and loans of $200. Contributions have come from several individuals, including those showing employment with prominent non-profit and community organizations like Adoption Rhode Island, Aquidneck Land Trust, and Clean Water Action. Representative Lauren Carson (D- District 75, Newport), who is employed by Clean Water Action, and Representative Deborah Ruggerio (D-District 74, Jamestown & Middletown) have made individual contributions to Euer’s campaign. The report shows contributions from individuals and their employment, so it is unclear whether donations from individuals connected with organizations is representative solely of the individual, or related to the organization with which they are affiliated.
David J. Allard, who describes himself as a progressive Democrat, manages the state’s third-grade reading goal program for the Rhode Island Department of Education and is an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University. A former Outreach Manager for Gov. Gina Raimondo, he shows a cash balance of $2,579.63, with no liabilities, in his May 1 filing. At the beginning of the period, Jan. 1, he showed a zero balance.
Paiva Weed, who is settling into her new position, had an active first quarter. As of Jan. 1, her fund balance was $42,663.36. She raised in that first quarter, ending March 31, some $40,700 from individuals and $27,100 from Political Action Committees. That brought her total cash to $110,463.36, offset by $44,195.20 in campaign expenses, for a fund balance of $66,268.07, fifty percent above her ending balance on Dec. 31, 2016.
Politicians who have left office can use their fund balances only to contribute to charities, other political campaigns, or return donations to donors. In the first quarter, Paiva Weed has done just that, contributing to General Assembly candidates throughout the state, local council candidates, political organizations and some charities. She shows a campaign expense of $10,392 to the CCRI Foundation, $3,500.21 to CJUF III MJH Providence, LLC, and another $1,000 donation to CJUF.
Paiva Weed’s report covers the period ending March 31, and the announcement of her appointment to the Hospital Association position was made less than two weeks earlier. Of great interest will be Paiva Weed’s next report, which will cover the second quarter, a period of April 1 to the end of June.
Meanwhile, some defrocked legislators continue to carry significant balances in fund accounts and money that has remained in those accounts for years. Former House Speaker Gordon Fox has more than $67,000 remaining in his campaign account and former state Senator John Celona, found guilty on corruption charges in 2004, shows more than $53,000 remaining in his account, but with his last report filed on Jan 30, 2004.
Editor’s Note: What’sUpNewp will host a Senate District 13 Candidate Forum on Monday, July 10th at Jane Pickens Theater. The event is free and open to the public.