The table is now set for the November election, after a primary campaign that produced few surprises, attracted few voters, was expensive, and showed Rhode Island’s Democratic Party to be more centrist than progressive.

It also proved that sports and politics share one certain truth – timing. In all sports you want your team to peak just at the right time, as the team enters the playoffs and that final decisive game. So it is in politics, you want a candidate to peak just at the right time.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for governor, Gov. Dan McKee ran a steady race, spending more as the campaign raced toward primary election day and holding virtually daily press conferences in his capacity as governor, announcing this program or another grant. For a surging Helena Buonanno Foulkes, she perhaps was a week or two away from peaking, finishing only about 3,000 votes behind McKee. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea seemed to peak early, then stumble some.

McKee had maintained as the campaign began its stretch run that he had more in campaign funds to spend than his opponents. Gorbea, meanwhile, had said the opposite, constantly reaching to supporters, hoping to bridge the gap. Foulkes, a former top executive at CVS and Hudson Bay Company, assured that she had enough money for the primary and a general election.

On the Republican side, Ashley Kalus, who easily defeated her Republican opponent, Jonathan Riccitelli, in the primary, has a well-funded campaign fueled by what appears to be $2.7 million she has loaned the campaign, according to the Board of Elections.

With all the money that was spent, it doesn’t appear that candidates tickled the fancy of many voters. Voter turnout (130,652 for governor) was considerably behind the 2018 primary (no presidential primary) of 150,950, and 2014 of 160,000.

Progressives also didn’t appear to do well. In spite of high-profile endorsements from the likes of U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Progressive Congressional candidate David Segal finished second in the race for the nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives second district seat, well behind the winner, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. Magaziner totaled 29,295 votes, while Segal managed only 8,718 

And former Secretary of State Matt Brown, who was also endorsed by high-profile national Progressives, finished fourth in the sweepstakes for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with only 8,744 votes (less than 8 percent).

Progressives also didn’t fare well in down-ballot races. The Rhode Island Political Cooperative, a Progressive coalition spearheaded by Brown, offered several candidates for legislative seats and local city or town councils.

In House of Representative races, only two of the 13 Political Cooperative candidates won primaries, and those were Brianna Henries in District 64 and Jennifer Stewart in District 59. Jackie Anderson ran as part of the Cooperative in House District 23 losing to House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi, by nearly 40 points.

The Cooperative ran a dozen candidates for Senate, winning one race, another unopposed, and losing the other 10, including an attempt to unseat Senate President Dominick Ruggiero in district 4. Jennifer Stewart won in District 59, and Jennifer Douglas ran unopposed in the primary in District 34.

Douglas now sets the third re-run against Sen. Elaine Morgan, R-Dist. 34. Morgan won for the first time beating the incumbent in 2014, and has beaten Douglas in nearly identical races in 2018 (54.3 percent to 45.6 percent), and in 2020 (54 percent to 46 percent). Morgan is the Senate’s Deputy Minority Whip.

The Cooperative also lost the two city council races in which it ran candidates; Nicole Leboeuf, finished last of five candidates for an at-large council seat in Pawtucket; and Andrew Poyant lost in a bid for the Ward 4 seat in Providence.

For those who missed here, here’s the November line-up for statewide races:

  • Governor: Democrat Gov. Daniel McKee, Republican Ashley Kalus, Independent Zachary Baker Hurwitz, Independent/Libertarian Elijah J. Gizzarelli.
  • U.S. House of Representatives, second district. Democrat General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Republican and former Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung, and Independent William H. Gilbert.
  • Lt. Governor: Incumbent Sabina Matos, a Democrat, and Republican Aaron Guckian.
  • General Treasurer: Former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, a Democrat, and Republican James Lathrop.
  • Secretary of State: Democratic state Rep. Gregg Amore, district 65, and Republican Pat V. Cortellessa.
  • Attorney General: Incumbent Peter F. Neronha, a Democrat, and Republican Charles Calenda.

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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. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.