open letter newport ri

I live in House District 71 (Portsmouth, Tiverton & Little Compton).  I’m paying close attention to the Democratic primary.  One way I evaluate candidates is to see how they are raising money to run for office.

In RI, campaign finance information is easily accessed on the Board of Elections website.  This data informs voters about the source and amounts of money contributed.  It’s just the facts… not colored by rhetoric or slogans or endorsements.

From campaign finance data we can learn how hard a candidate is working, how deep and broad their outreach is to constituents, who may influence them, and what constituents may expect of them should they win office.  Drawn from submitted reports (http://ricampaignfinance.com/RIPublic/Filings.aspx) here is the information on the nature of the candidates’ fundraising efforts:

  • Ms. McGaw has been campaigning and building campaign funds since June 2019.  She received more than 347 individual donations, averaging about $70 each.
  • By contrast Mr. Edwards entered the campaign just two months ago, with his first campaign contribution on 6/22/20.  He only has 17 contributions, averaging $550 each.  Most (72%) come from members of the state House leadership, including a thousand bucks from the Speaker of the House.  

The conclusions I draw from this data are:

  • Ms. McGaw has been working much harder, much longer to reach out to the communities and meet many constituents.  You don’t earn almost 350 individual donations otherwise.  She is running a real campaign to represent real constituents, and she will be beholden to no one should she win the House 71 seat.  She’s earned it.
  • Mr. Edwards started at the candidate declaration deadline.  He’s received very few individual contributions, most as large donations from state House leadership.  It’s reasonable to conclude he will be expected to support the Statehouse leadership status quo should he win the seat.

I see a pretty stark choice to be made for September 8th… we can vote for Michelle McGaw who is clearly interested in representing the District 71 communities with a fresh perspective, with no obligations to the old guard, and great potential to bring needed change to the Statehouse.  

Or we can support a candidate continuing a business-as-usual political process with the Speaker of the House strengthening his position as Rhode Island’s one-man-show.  

I’ll be voting for McGaw.  You should too.


Renee Sartini


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