It was a fruitful seven days for progressive Democrats in Rhode Island, with two big wins in the last two Democrat primaries. Last week Nirva LaFortune won in Ward 3, Providence City Council and this week Dawn Euer emerged victorious in Senate District 13 (Newport & Jamestown).
These were excellent results for two good candidates and in both cases they were the only women on the ballot. The primaries came in the middle of he State House budget stand-off and the failure of the House to finish it’s business meant several progressive bills didn’t make it through the 2017 session. That gave voters an additional reason to ensure their voice was heard.
David Hanos, who finished some way back in second place was seen as the ‘establishment’ candidate, having also been endorsed by the Newport Democratic Committee and former Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed. Hannos got into trouble following his equivocation on reproductive rights having had received an endorsement from Rhode Island Right to Life – when pushed on the issue in a recent debate said he was “undecided.” RI Future’s Steve Ahlquist asked him to clarify his answer and got nowhere; even when he pointed out that Hanos might be asked to take a stand on the issue at the State House.
In last week’s city council primary, both defeated candidates backed party unity and said they would support the winner with runner-up Mark Santow submitting a memorable and widely praised concession statement saying he would be honored to be represented by the victor. In contrast, Hanos has done the opposite in District 13. He was reported to say he could not support Dawn Euer for senator.
The results also show the folly of Bill Lynch calling RI Progressives ‘out of touch.’ These primaries are confirmation that he and his cohorts are looking more and more detached from the concerns of Democrats voters who voted for Nirva and Dawn.