As we enter into the final weeks of August, it’s no wonder that things are heating up in local politics.
Lawn signs are abundant, televised debates are starting to air and candidates are pounding the pavement and going door to door to round up votes.
November is still a long way away, but September is almost here, and that means primary elections are nearly upon us.
But don’t think that all primary elections are a throwaway. Sure, if there were only one Democratic or Republican candidate running for a particular office, they would face one another in the General Election, along with qualified independent candidates for the post. But when two distinct candidates from the same party are vying for a single position, primaries become critically important.
Gaining statewide notoriety at the moment is the Anthony Gemma vs. David Cicilline race, in which the self-made businessman and former mayor of Providence are competing for the Congressional District 1 seat. Despite the fact that Warwick doesn’t fall within their district, it’s still impossible to ignore the daily news bulletins surrounding their controversy-laden competition for Congress.
This Wednesday, Gemma has promised to deliver groundbreaking allegations against Cicilline. Rumors have been flying that what Gemma said started as an investigation into possible voter fraud has spiraled into the unearthing of criminal activity. Originally Gemma had said his race was against the Republican congressional candidate, Brendan Doherty, but now it seems Gemma, too, has realized the gravitas of primary elections.
Then, of course, there are those particular positions that have two members of the same party running against each other. Take Senate District 29, in which newcomer Laura Pisaturo is challenging incumbent Michael McCaffrey.
McCaffrey has held the seat since 1994, and now Pisaturo is stepping forward to attempt to change that. She said she’s tired of “business as usual” at the State House, and is sick of Senate leadership doing what she sees as a below-average job.
They are the only two candidates running for the district, so whoever wins the primary will be the next senator.
Voters may tend to think they don’t need to tune into the campaign process until mid-October or later. That would be a mistake in District 29 and other local races facing primaries.