Light turnout on RI primary day with legislative races in focusSeptember 11th, 2012 at 3:07 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Sam Lovett, a long-shot Democratic candidate in East Providence’s four-way House District 63 primary, said he’d received a good response on the campaign trail. “People are just fed up with the same old same old,” Lovett said as he stood outside the Whiteknact School, where 113 votes had been cast as of 1:07 p.m.
Operatives said turnout was mixed – unsurprisingly – around the state in what’s expected to be a light turnout election. “Primaries have small turnouts – you never know what’s going to happen,” WPRI 12 political analyst Joe Fleming said. “It’s a matter of who gets their vote out.”
WPRI.com will live-blog the results as they come in after the polls close at 8 p.m., with full coverage on TV, as well. There are 40 state legislative primaries in addition to the congressional race and local contests.
Some polling places were busy, including Temple Beth El on Providence’s East Side, where 229 people had voted as of 10:39 a.m. Maryellen Butke was outside seeking support for her Senate District 3 campaign against Gayle Goldin, and supporters of both candidates there said education policy was a key issue in the race.
In Warwick, veteran Sen. Michael McCaffrey is fighting off a challenge from attorney Laura Pisaturo. At 11:55 a.m., 208 voters had cast ballots at the city’s John Brown Francis Elementary School. A Pisaturo supporter said she liked her stance on gay marriage, while a McCaffrey backer said he’d helped residents fight a new sewer policy.
There was little sign at polling places of the bitter Democratic primary between Congressman David Cicilline and Anthony Gemma, which Cicilline is expected to win handily. Gemma said he could win an upset victory if turnout is high. Cicilline, who was losing his voice, said he won’t have a problem raising money for the general election.
The race got national attention Tuesday from both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Asked about its tone, Gemma said: “This is my style. It’s really about telling people the truth straight from the jump street.”
Multiple people at various polling places said voters were getting surprised when they arrived to vote only to find their polling places had been moved due to a new state law making each one bigger. (Check yours here.) Fleming noted that the larger polling places could make turnout look higher than it actually is at familiar spots.
A spokesman for independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee said he plans to vote at his precinct, the Potowomut Golf Club in Warwick, before polls close at 8 once he finishes work at the State House. She didn’t say whether he’ll take a Republican or Democratic ballot.
Among those in Rhode Island for Tuesday’s primary was Kimball Brace, who drew the new districts that reshaped the state’s electoral map starting with this election. Brace said he was here to do administrative tasks at the State House – computer backups – and was visiting some of the new precincts to see how they worked out.
• Related: The 23 primary races to watch across Rhode Island – and why (Sept. 10)
Tim White contributed to this report.
(photo: Ted Nesi/WPRI)