Democrat Euer wins special election for District 13 Senate seat

Photo: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) – Democrat Dawn Euer has been elected to the vacant Rhode Island Senate seat left open by the resignation of M. Teresa Paiva Weed earlier this year.

Euer defeated Republican Michael Smith, independent Kimberly Ripoli and Green Party nominee Gregory Larson.

Euer received 1,982 votes to Smith’s 1,295, Ripoli’s 73 and Larson’s 17, according to Tracy A. Nelson, Newport’s canvassing clerk.

Nelson said the ballot counts do not include 230 mail ballots that are being held by the Board of Elections until Monday due to questions about how they were notarized.

Turnout was low, perhaps unsurprisingly for a midsummer special election. Only 18% of eligible voters showed up at the polls to cast a ballot on Tuesday, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Paiva Weed, a Democrat who served 12 terms and became the first woman to serve as Senate president, stepped down in March to become head of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. She represented Senate District 13, which includes Newport and Jamestown.

Euer, who had a financial edge thanks to backing from supporters including Planned Parenthood, defeated three other candidates in last month’s Democratic primary. Smith, who was supported by the free-market Gaspee Project group, previously made unsuccessful bids against Democratic Rep. Lauren Carson in 2016 and Paiva Weed in 2014.

Euer’s win will once again put Democrats in control of 33 of the state Senate’s 38 seats, while Republicans hold the other five.

Senate spokesman Greg Pare said Euer will be sworn in before the General Assembly reconvenes Sept. 19 for a special session. The chamber’s leaders are working with the secretary of state’s office to determine a date, he said.

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.