Races Start in Earnest for Dems, Republicans in Pair of Special Congressional Primaries

August 3, 2023 by Dan McCue
Races Start in Earnest for Dems, Republicans in Pair of Special Congressional Primaries
The Aug. 17 debate among Democratic congressional candidates in Rhode Island will be held at Roger Williams University's Bristol campus. (Roger Williams University photo)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — With just over a month to go before Rhode Islanders cast their ballots in this year’s special election to complete the term of incumbent Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, nearly 10 party hopefuls are prepping for a series of debates that kick off Friday and will extend through the final week of the campaign.

The Sept. 5 primary was scheduled after Cicilline left Congress in late May to become CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, the state’s largest private funder of nonprofit organizations.

The first debate between Democratic hopefuls hoping to succeed Cicilline is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at the Providence Public Library on Empire Street.

The event is being hosted by the Black Lives Matter Rhode Island PAC and the Rhode Island Black Business Association.

The primary field has 12 candidates, and the one with the most votes will advance to the general election on Nov. 7, 2023.

Participants scheduled to take part in the debate include Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, state Sen. Ana Quezada, former state House Member Aaron Regunberg, Providence City Councilmember John Goncalves, Pawtucket, R.I., Commerce Secretary Sandra Cano, former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Gabe Amo, and private citizens Stephanie Beauté, a senior program manager in the tech industry, and Don Carlson, a professor at Yale Law School.

A second debate will take place on Thursday, Aug. 17, at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.

This debate is being hosted by the Rhode Island Association of Democratic City and Town Chairs and is scheduled to coincide with the start of early voting for the primary.

Its moderators will be Boston Globe reporters Edward Fitzpatrick and Steph Machado.

In all, 10 of the 12 Democratic candidates are expected to participate in the forum, including Goncalves, Amo, Matos, Beauté, Cano, Carlson and Regunberg.

Joining them on stage will be newcomers to the debate trail state Rep. Stephen Case and Walter Berbrick, a former Naval War College professor.

The debate will run from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the RWU Campus Recreation Center Field House on Old Ferry Road.

Organizers warn that seating is limited in the venue and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will close at 5:40 p.m.

On Tuesday, Aug. 29, WPRI, FOX Providence will present a live broadcast debate from the campus of Rhode Island College in Providence.

The debate will begin at 7 p.m. and be moderated by Target 12 Chief Investigative Reporter Tim White and 12 News Politics Editor Ted Nesi. 

The station has announced that all Democratic primary candidates who qualify under the Nexstar Media Inc. nationwide criteria will be invited to participate.

Nexstar Media Inc. is the parent company of WPRI-TV, and it has devised what it calls “objective and non-discriminatory criteria” to govern which candidates are eligible to participate in company-sponsored debates.

To be eligible to participate, a candidate must comply with all five of the criteria:

  • First they must be legally qualified to run for the office and either be listed on the ballot for the office they are seeking or running to be a write-in candidate who meets all the legal qualifications required by the federal, state or municipal government for the office being sought. Write-in candidates also have to have filed all appropriate papers to declare their status before they will be considered for the debate stage.
  •  A participating candidate must also have publicly announced his or her candidacy in a public forum, which can include the internet.
  • A candidate must be actively campaigning for election in the jurisdiction they are seeking to represent. To meet the definition of an active campaign, a candidate must engage in at least five of the following:
    • a.) A campaign headquarters with a paid and/or volunteer staff that is open to the public during business hours. For the purposes of this subsection, a campaign headquarters may not be a private residence, but may be a business address used primarily for non-campaign purposes.
    • b.) A campaign phone line.
    • c.) A publicized, dedicated, candidate-specific website or web page.
    • d.) Planned in-district appearances or invitations to appear and/or speak at public gatherings.
    • e.) Monetary contributions and a campaign treasurer.
    • f.) Campaign literature.
    • g.) Press coverage identifying the candidate as a candidate in the current election by at least eight unique news reports in media (for example, in newspapers, TV, cable news, radio or online news websites that are recognized by local and/or national media; the station owner notes, however, that blogs are not considered news reports, whether affiliated or unaffiliated).
  • A candidate must have received at least 5% in the ballot test poll question (Who do you plan to vote for?) that includes all party-aligned candidates on the ballot in a primary election, or at least 10% in a ballot test poll question (Who do you plan to vote for?) that includes all candidates on the ballot running for office in the general election, in an established, professionally conducted, nonpartisan poll chosen by Nexstar Media Inc. without taking the survey’s margin of error into account. The poll must be released within 120 days prior to the primary or general election, as applicable.
  • A candidate for a state or federal office must have reported, on the most recent official forms filed with the appropriate election authority, accepting at least $50,000 in monetary, as opposed to in-kind, campaign contributions, at least 25% of which must be raised from in-state constituents. 

Rhode Island isn’t the only state with a special primary election set to be held on Sept 5.

In Utah, voters in the state’s 2nd Congressional District will decide who advances to the special Nov. 21 election to complete the term of incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Stewart following his resignation due to his wife’s illness.

Though the seat Stewart is vacating is considered reliably Republican, the race has not been without its controversy. 

On June 28, delegates at the state Republican Party’s convention selected Celeste Maloy as their nominee.

A former deputy county attorney in Washington County, Utah, Maloy has worked as counsel in Stewart’s office for the past five years.

Though the majority of the delegates at the convention endorsed her as the most qualified candidate to attempt to succeed Stewart, state legislative leaders have objected to her candidacy on the grounds that she was not a registered voter with a statement of party affiliation when she submitted her declaration to run as required under Utah Republican Party bylaws.

As it happens, Maloy defeated former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes in the convention balloting.

In a July 3 letter, they suggested Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, who oversees Utah elections, did not follow state laws regarding elections by allowing Maloy on the ballot.

Henderson responded with a statement that said Maloy met every lawful requirement and constitutional qualification to run.

Since then, two other Republican candidates have qualified to appear on the primary ballot. They are Becky Edwards, a former state lawmaker, and Bruce Hough, a GOP national committeeman, each of whom submitted the 7,000 valid signatures they needed to enter the race.

In a statement released after his signatures were certified, Hough’s campaign said it never doubted it would make it on the primary ballot.

“People want choice, they want an authentic conservative. A Republican that actually votes for a Republican president instead of voting for Democrats or not voting at all,” the statement said. 

For her part, Edwards said in a written statement that the collecting of signatures to get her on the ballot was “truly a grassroots, volunteer-driven effort.”

“I’m incredibly grateful for the hundreds of Utahns across the district that gathered signatures on my behalf,” Edwards said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

A+
a-
  • Rhode Island
  • special congressional primaries
  • Utah
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Elections

    Supreme Court Finds No Bias Against Black Voters in a South Carolina Congressional District

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court 's conservative majority on Thursday preserved a Republican-held South Carolina congressional district, rejecting a lower-court ruling... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court 's conservative majority on Thursday preserved a Republican-held South Carolina congressional district, rejecting a lower-court ruling that said the district discriminated against Black voters. In dissent, liberal justices warned that the court was insulating states from claims of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering. In... Read More

    Election Deniers Moving Closer to GOP Mainstream, Report Shows, as Trump Allies Fill Congress

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In the hours after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Ohio’s then-Republican senator, Rob... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In the hours after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Ohio’s then-Republican senator, Rob Portman, voted to accept President Joe Biden’s win over the defeated former president, Donald Trump, despite Trump’s false allegations that Biden only won because of fraud. But as Trump... Read More

    Juror Dismissed in Trump Hush Money Trial as Prosecutors Ask for Former President to Face Contempt

    NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors in the hush money trial of Donald Trump asked Thursday for the former president to be held... Read More

    NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors in the hush money trial of Donald Trump asked Thursday for the former president to be held in contempt and fined because of seven social media posts that they said violated a judge's gag order barring him from attacking witnesses. Meanwhile, the jury... Read More

    April 16, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Maine Joins Effort to Elect President by a National Popular Vote

    AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine on Monday became the latest state to join a movement to elect the president of the... Read More

    AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine on Monday became the latest state to join a movement to elect the president of the United States by a national popular vote. Earlier this month, lawmakers in the House and Senate passed bills in their respective chambers to join the National... Read More

    Republican Vince Fong Advances to Runoff to Complete Term of ex-House Speaker McCarthy

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Republican state Legislator Vince Fong advanced to a May election in California to decide who will... Read More

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Republican state Legislator Vince Fong advanced to a May election in California to decide who will complete the remainder of the term of deposed former U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which runs through January. It was not yet clear Tuesday night who will... Read More

    Tuesday's Primaries Include Key Senate Race in Ohio and Clues for Biden-Trump Rematch

    NEW YORK (AP) — Five states will hold presidential primaries on Tuesday as President Joe Biden and former President Donald... Read More

    NEW YORK (AP) — Five states will hold presidential primaries on Tuesday as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump continue to lock up support around the country after becoming their parties’ presumptive nominees. Trump is expected to easily win GOP primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois,... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top