As a member of the state Senate or state House of Representatives winning not only your election, but one of the coveted leadership positions can be quite lucrative.
A review of several legislators, particularly those in leadership positions, shows that those with increased influence are rewarded mightily by those who covet that influence. We looked at fundraising totals for the reporting period that ended April 30. The state Board of Elections next financial reporting deadline is July 30.
Meanwhile, candidates have filed for election, and are now gathering the required signatures that will get them on the ballot, in what promises to be a most unusual election season – one, in which dollars can make a huge difference.
With COVID-19 there will be few if any local forums (at least in person), coffee hours, or in-person debates or house to house visits. More money will likely be spent for collateral materials, advertising in various media, perhaps staff to run phone banks.
Here is a look at the finances of candidates in some of the higher profile General Assembly races, including local races on Aquidneck Island. Figures are based on the reports filed with the state Board of Elections for the period ending April 30. Many candidates, who did not hold prior public office, would not have declared their candidacy until June, and therefore would not have been required to submit finance reports to the Board of Elections in April.
In the House of Representatives
- Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, often a controversial figure, who is considered the most power person in government in Rhode Island, will face Republican Barbara Ann Fung, wife of the current Cranston mayor. Mattiello has a war chest of $188,717, while Fung, as of April 30, had not filed a report.
- Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Warwick, the House Majority Leader, apparently has no opponent. Yet, he has the largest of all finance accounts with $1,157,938. Politicians can only use their finance funds for their own campaigns, can donate to other campaigns, or donate to charities. That applies while in office, and after leaving office. Funds cannot be used for personal expenses or income.
- Brian Patrick Kennedy, D-Westerly and Speaker Pro Tempore, has a comfortable campaign fund of $54,033, but faces a possible primary election against challenger Michael J. Torres. The winner of the primary will likely face Republican Donald H. Kohlman in the November general election. Neither Torres nor Kohlman had filed reports by the April 30 deadline.
- Rep. John Edwards, D-Tiverton, the House Majority Whip, has reported $5,181 in his campaign fund. He is being challenged by Republican Christopher M. Borden, who had not filed a campaign finance report by April 30.
- On the Republican side, the leadership of the small band of House Republicans have amassed far less than the Democratic leadership. The one exception is Rep. Blake Filippi, R-Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown and Westerly. Filippi, the Minority Leader has $33,655 in his account as of April 30. He apparently does not have an opponent.
- Rep. Justin Price, R-Richmond, Hopkinton, and Exeter, the Senior Deputy Minority Whip has $3,710 in his account and is apparently facing a primary challenge from Gerald Paul Zarella.
- Minority Whip Rep. Michael Chippendale, R- Coventry, Foster has $5,579 in his fund and is being challenged by Linda A Nichols, a Democrat.
- Elsewhere on Aquidneck Island, the clear winner is Rep. Marvin Abney, D-Portsmouth, who has amassed $120,070, and has no opposition.
- In District 71, Portsmouth and Tiverton, incumbent Dennis Canario, D, is not running, and as of April 30 had $7,323 in his account. Two Democrats – Michelle McGaw ($9,425) and John G. Edwards V – and one Republican, Amy E. Veri, have declared for the seat.
- State Rep. Terri-Denise Cortvriend, D-Portsmouth ($6,296) is being challenged in the primary by Christopher Semonelli. Republican Kenneth J. Mendonca ($1,341) is preparing to face the winner in the general election
- Jamestown Rep. Deb Ruggiero, a Democrat, has amassed $51,907 in her campaign fund, and is being challenged by Democrat Henry F. Lombardi in the primary election.
- State Rep. Lauren Carson, D-Newport, has $24,607 in her war chest, and faces a challenge from Republican Patrick J. Donovan.
In the Senate
- Senate President Dominick J. Ruggiero, D-Providence, has accumulated $277,973 in campaign funds, and his primary election challenger, Leonard A. Cioe, Jr., has $2,388.
- Sen. Michael McCaffrey, D-Warwick, the Senate Majority Leader, has a war chest of $267,212. He is being challenged in the primary election by Jennifer T. Rourke. Republican Jean E. Trafford is also running for the seat.
- Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, has $37,248 in her account and is being challenged in the primary by Evan Lemoine.
- President Pro Tempore Harold Metts, D-Providence has accumulated $14,231, and is being challenged in the primary election by Tiara T. Mack, who has a campaign fund of $7,063. Also declaring for the seat is Green Party candidate Kevin Gilligan.
- On the Republican side, Minority Whip Elaine Morgan of Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond, and West Greenwich has accumulated $7,792. Her opponent Jennifer C. Douglas, a Democrat, had $616 in her campaign fund on April 30
- Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algier, R-Westerly, reportedly had $390 in his campaign account as of April 30. He is being opposed by Independent Julius Dunn.
- Other notable Aquidneck Island Senators who apparently are running unopposed are Sen. James Seveney, D-Bristol, Portsmouth ($7,344); Sen. Lou DiPalma, D-Little Compton, Middletown ($21,946); and Sen. Dawn Euer, D-Newport, Jamestown ($20,406).
- Walter Felag, D-Tiverton, Warren, has amassed $35,980, while his general election opponent, Republican Mark W. Smiley, has $5,060 in his war chest.