PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A half-dozen members of the General Assembly, including the House Majority Leader, lost their races – some of which were very close – during Tuesday’s primary.
Voter turnout was so low that many of the big races were won by a margin of just a few dozen votes. Eyewitness News learned on Wednesday that there were six requests for recounts. If nothing changes, though, those six incumbents will lose their house seats.
The first – the largest story line of the night – was Majority Leader John DeSimone, who lost his primary to political newcomer Marcia Ranglin-Vassell.
Ranglin-Vassell, a school teacher, won by just 16 votes. DeSimone, who is Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s second in command, filed for a recount.
In other races:
- Warren Rep. Jan Malik, who has been a representative since 1996, was defeated by Barrington attorney Jason Knight.
- Warwick Rep. Eileen Naughton – who has had her seat since 1992 – lost by 73 votes to Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson.
- Providence Rep. Thomas Palangio lost by 21 votes to progressive newcomer Moira Walsh. Palangio also requested a recount.
- State Sen. Juan Pichardo lost by 97 votes to Ana Quezada. Pichardo has served for seven years in Providence.
- Sen. William Walaska, who was serving his 11th term in Warwick, who lost by 81 votes to Jeanine Calkin.
- Incumbents David Coughlin and James Doyle won their races – but both of their challengers filed recount requests.
Four of the six challengers who won were endorsed by the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats. Eyewitness News Political Analyst Joe Fleming said no one should read too much into the voter overhaul of incumbents because turnout was generally low.
“Come November we’re talking about a turnout of 60 percent of the state of Rhode Island, so you really don’t want to read too much into the primary results,” he said.
“You’re going to have a lot more people coming out for the general election which will have a much bigger impact on what happens in the General Assembly. I’m sure the Republicans are going to try to run some very good races through out the state.”
Mattiello released a statement on Wednesday addressed DeSimone’s loss and stayed positive, writing:
“I am pleased that 11 candidates I strongly supported were victorious last night. Overall, it was a positive night for the Democratic Party in Rhode Island.”
Recounts will be done on Friday and the Board of Elections will decide Wednesday whether or not to grant those recount requests. Provisional ballots will be looked at Thursday.