Aquidneck Island State Senators Lou DiPalma and Dawn Euer will be among perhaps dozens of Democratic state legislators facing primary election battles next September, some targeted by a progressive group led by former Secretary of State Matt Brown, who announced this week that he’s running for governor.

Euer was first elected to the District 13 seat in a special election in 2017, and DiPalma was elected to the District 12 seat in 2009. District 13 includes Newport and Jamestown, and District 12 includes Little Compton, Tiverton, Middletown, and Newport.

The two learned of their primary opponents in a week in which there’s been a flurry of political activity, in which Brown joined the growing Democratic primary for governor, and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, also a gubernatorial candidate, announced an all-female campaign leadership team.

Euer, surprisingly, has been targeted by Brown’s Rhode Island Political Cooperative (RIPC), which supports progressives. Euer, often identified as a progressive, has been supportive of many progressive causes and a leader in women’s rights issues.

She’s being challenged by Jennifer Jackson, who on the RIPC website is described as a former health care worker who served as Thompson PTO president, joined the North End Neighborhood Association and the Newport Little League Board, and cofounded S.T.R.O.N.G with her husband. The RIPC website describes S.T.R.O.N.G as “an organization to build community and mentor youth in Newport.” 

Euer, a lawyer, chairs the Senate’s environment and agriculture committee. In the wake of the expiration of the eviction moratorium, Euer has hosted a forum to connect those who are housing challenged with institutions that oversee rent assistance programs.

Former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg, among the state’s leading progressives, was critical of RIPC’s targeting Euer. “What an absurd waste of resources, which will now go into both attacking and defending a longtime progressive ally, rather than targeting the actual obstacles to progress in our state,” said Regunberg, in a comment to WPRI TV.

According to the state Board of Elections, Euer has $25,115 in her campaign account. Jackson, who ran unsuccessfully for school committee in 2016, has not filed a campaign finance report for 2021.

DiPalma was first elected to the state Senate’s District 12 seat in 2009.

Challenging DiPalma is Jenna Magnuski, who is not listed among RIPC’s candidates, although her profile is consistent with many of RIPC’s candidates. In a press release, she said she is a museum educator, who is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts.

She said she was elected to the Little Compton Budget Committee, is involved in school-related committees, joined the Little Compton Coalition for Racial Justice, and helped form Love Wins Little Compton, a non-profit committee that helps meet the needs of the LGBTQ+ community,

DiPalma, a technical engineer at Raytheon, chairs the Senate’s Rules, Government Ethics, and Oversight Committee. He’s vice-chair of the finance committee and was among the finalists in Gov. Dan McKee’s search for a lieutenant governor, a position McKee held until elevated earlier this year when Gov. Gina Raimondo joined the Biden administration.

DiPalma earned a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Bridgeport and a master’s in computer science from Brown University.

DiPalma has $25, 515 in his campaign finance account, according to the Board of Elections. Magnuski according to Board of Election records, has not yet filed a finance report.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal....