For a state that claims its General Assembly members are too ensconced, there certainly are a lot of legislators running unopposed. More than 44 percent of incumbents will be alone on the ballot.
But in the contested races, there seems to be more opportunity than risk for the progressive caucus in the General Assembly. Here are some of the battlegrounds around Rhode Island where liberal candidates can either pick up a seat or may be in danger.
The most high profile legislative race pits activist Aaron Regunberg, best known for helping to organize the Providence Student Union, against Heather Tow-Yick, and others. It’s Gordon Fox’s East Side district, and liberals would like to replace the former speaker with a died-in-the-wool progressive such as Regunberg – whose successful effort to suspend the NECAP graduation requirement leaves him with tons of political capital.
Linda Finn is the progressive incumbent in House District 72, but two years ago she narrowly beat then-incumbent Republican Dan Reilly. Reilly is well-liked across the isle, but Finn is loved by the left.
Hunger striker, former Peace Corp member and City Councilor Shelby Maldonado is challenging incumbent Rep. Gus Silva. Now that would be quite a voice to add to the House progressive caucus!
Republican firebrand Patricia Morgan has bet big on being a thorn in the side of leadership and taking on local firefighters. Now, she’ll face a tough reelection campaign against Nick Denice. He’s a certified fraud inspector. Morgan is a longtime GOP insider with a bad habit of misstating facts and trashing the working class. Also in Knotty Oaker Country, Rep. Scott Guthrie will face Republican Bobby Nardolillo, of the Nardolillo Funeral Home family.
On the senate side, The left’s best chance of gaining a seat in the Senate is with Margaux Morriseau. She’s challenging Coventry Sen. Nick Kettle. Morriseau is best known for leading the charge for payday loan reform, but she is also a leader of the New Leaders Council, and a longtime employee with NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley. Kettle is best known for creating a fake Facebook page on a State House computer or disparaging homeless people.
Julie Casimiro, development director at Family Service of Rhode Island, is challenging tea party extremist Doreen Costa. This would be a good swap for the left.
Rep. Peter Martin, a Democrat and Fifth Ward throwback, faces a tough challenge from environmentalist Lauren Carson.
Which race did we forget to flag? Let us know in the comments below.