The Senate seat currently held by East Greenwich Republican Mark Gee could see an all-progressive primary to determine the Democratic challenger. Bridget Valverde, of North Kingstown, has already filed papers to run for the seat and NEARI Executive Director Bob Walsh, of East Greenwich, says he’s considering running as well.
“I think she would be a great addition to the Senate, and if I do run I’d expect a positive, upbeat campaign,” Walsh, a longtime labor leader who once ran for Congress, said of a potential primary campaign against Valverde, a political newcomer who was recently elected vice chair of the Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus.
“As your State Senator, I promise to fight for access to comprehensive health care for all, to protect the coastline and other natural resources in our beautiful state, and to raise wages and create opportunities for working families,” Valverde, said in an email announcing her candidacy. She’s a mother of two and used to work in the non-profit sector.
Walsh is more of a known quantity in Rhode Island politics, loved by some and hated by others for aggressively advocating for teachers and other union members at the State House. An elder statesman of Rhode Island’s progressive movement, he helped form the Working RI.
“As far as issues,” he told me, “I expect what you see is what you get! People may be most familiar with my job based advocacy for teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff and state employees, as well as working families generally, but I will also remind them of both my other progressive advocacy centered in my long involvement with the former Ocean State Action, my environmental involvement with Clean Water Action, as well as my finance background to help with navigating budgets.”
It’s unclear how Walsh’s reputation as a political insider and labor agitator will play in the largely affluent suburban Senate district that stretches from downtown East Greenwich to Point Judith. But it seems obvious he would get lots of campaign help from his deep network of Democratic political alliances.
Mark Gee has told this reporter he intends to run for reelection. Whether he does or not, don’t be surprised if EG Town Council President Sue Cienki runs for this seat.