Debates with empty chairs, negative television advertisements, sometimes inflated claims of prosperity by incumbents, and equally inflated claims of despair by opponents.

Add to that polling by legitimate sources that so far nationally in this campaign have been considerably flawed, and polls by special interest groups trying to skew the results in favor of candidates championing their causes.

Hello – welcome to Rhode Island’s 2018 primary election.

Few would anticipate a large turnout, and the fact the primary is being held on a Wednesday (Sept. 12), rather than the traditional Tuesday, promises to add to the reduced turnout. The election was moved to Wednesday out of respect for the Jewish Holiday, Rosh Hashana.

What’s at stake in this primary election? Aside from statewide contests, not a lot on Aquidneck Island. There’s a primary election in Newport’s second ward council race, and up the road, in Bristol, there are Democratic primaries in Districts 68 and 69.

Statewide, however, there are highly competitive primaries in both parties for governor, a heated Democratic contest for lieutenant governor, primaries in both parties for U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress (District 1).

So, here’s a quick look at the races, beginning with local races.

Newport City Council Ward 2

In this non-partisan race, voters will eliminate one of three candidates to set up a two-way race in the November general election. Incumbent Lynn Underwood Ceglia faces Planning Board member Liam P. Barry, and Valerie Larkin.

Bristol House of Representatives

District 69 incumbent Susan Ro Donovan is being challenged in the primary by Leif E. Nygaard. The winner faces Independent Douglas Gablinske in November.

In District 68, Laufton Ascencao and Andrew T. Tysker, are vying for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat vacated by Kenneth Marshall, who has admitted he failed to report $11,000 and used his campaign funds to pay for personal trips. Marshall served as the House Finance Committee vice chair. The winner of the Democratic primary faces Libertarian candidate James Hurst, Jr.


There are vibrant races in both parties, with other candidates ready to join the fray for the November election.

On the Democratic side, incumbent Gina Raimondo faces former Secretary of State Matt Brown and former state Representative Spencer Dickinson.

Raimondo has raised north of $6 million in campaign funds and is spending freely on television advertisements that first celebrated her record as governor, focusing on the economy, and then has taken aim at Brown with hard hitting attack ads. Brown has been running ads of his own, while Dickinson has relied upon press releases and events to promote his campaign.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who lost in a close race to Raimondo in 2014, faces House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, and former state Senator and businessman Giovanni Feroce for the GOP nomination. Like Raimondo, Fung has dodged the most visible debates, participating in one on a northern Rhode Island radio station.

The winners of the Democratic and Republican primary elections will face off against Moderate party candidate William H. Gilbert, Compassion party candidate Anne Armstrong, and independents Luis Daniel Munoz and Joseph A. Trillo, a former Republican state Representative and President Donald Trump’s co-campaign chair in Rhode Island in 2016.

Lieutenant Governor

In a race recognized by CNN and the Boston Globe as among the most competitive nationwide, incumbent Democratic Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee faces second term state Representative Aaron Regunberg. McKee is in his mid-60’s and a former Cumberland mayor, and is considered a mainstream Democrat. Regunberg, 28, has been campaigning to eliminate lobbyist influence in government, and in support of what would be characterized as key progressive issues, includes women’s reproductive rights, higher minimum wage, and guaranteed sick leave for workers.

U.S. Senate

Incumbent Sheldon Whitehouse is being opposed in the Democratic primary election by Patricia A. Fontes, an 81-year-old social activist and educator. Fontes says her campaign focuses on her opposition to “the militaristic and imperialistic position of the United States with respect to the rest of the world and promoting peace, domestically and internationally, through the collaborative establishment of justice in all the various spheres of human interaction.”

Former Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders is facing a Republican challenge from San Diego resident Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, who is running in several states to demonstrate problems within the federal election system. If victorious in the primary and general elections in Rhode Island, De La Fuente would have to move to Rhode Island.

U.S. House of Representatives, District 1

Democratic Congressman David N. Cicilline is facing Christopher Young, who has run unsuccessfully in the past, and whose Facebook pages have come under scrutiny for promoting several conspiracy theories.

On the Republican side Patrick T. Donovan faces Frederick Wysocki.

Oher interesting names and races

  • Providence mayor. Incumbent Jorge Elorza has two challengers in the Democratic primary, Kobi Jason Dennis and Robert DeRobbio.
  • Paul Roselli, a Democrat who had first declared for governor, but withdraw to run for state Senate 23 in Burrillville is in a four-way race in the primary election. Incumbent Paul Fogarty, a Democrat, is not running for reelection.
  • Stephen A. Cianci, a distant relative of former Providence Mayor the late Buddy Cianci, is in a three-way race for the Ward 5 Democratic Council nomination. He is facing incumbent Jo-Ann Ryan and Aaron Jaehnig.
  • In Warwick, where former Mayor Scott Avedesian resigned in the Spring to become CEO of the Rhode Island Pubic Transit Authority after 18 years as mayor, there’s four way Democratic primary. Acting Mayor Joseph Solomon, long time council president, is being challenged by Richard Corrente, who has run in Democratic primaries in the past, Vincent Ferle, and Gerald Carbone, former Providence Journal reporter.

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