Campaign notebook: Races heat up as Sept. 12 primary approaches

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Fox Point resident Pacheco to challenge Segal in state rep. primary

District 2 State Rep. Paul Moura has “forgotten where he came from,” according to Richard Pacheco, who will face current Ward 1 City Councilman David Segal in next week’s Democratic primary to represent District 2 in the State House of Representatives. Moura will not pursue re-election.

Pacheco told the East Side Monthly he is “very proud” of his Portuguese heritage and hopes it will secure his win in the predominantly Portuguese District 2, which includes Providence’s Fox Point, Wayland, Downcity and Jewelry District neighborhoods and East Providence’s Suttonville and Center City neighborhoods. Unlike his opponent, Pacheco has no Web site, just “two telephones.” He is advertising on the Portuguese cable television channel, in the Portuguese newspaper and on the radio. Pacheco is running on a slate with Ward 1 City Council Democratic primary candidate Ethan Ris ’05. Both candidates were endorsed by the Ward 1 Democratic committee over the summer.

Segal called on Pacheco and Ris to file overdue campaign finance reports last month. Though Ris ultimately filed his reports, Pacheco has not yet filed five reports due over the course of the past year, racking up $1,200 in fines.

“Pacheco (is) clearly spending large amounts of money, and it appears he doesn’t want the public to know where it’s coming from. Unfortunately, given his campaign finance history, that’s understandable,” Segal wrote in an Aug. 22 press release.

Lawless takes on lawnmowers at Langevin’s headquarters

Associate Professor of Political Science Jennifer Lawless continues to single out her opponent in the Democratic primary for District 2’s U.S. House of Representatives seat, incumbent Rep. James Langevin, for his record on the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and reproductive freedom. Most recently, her campaign launched a Web site,, likening the Rhode Island representative to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.

Lawless held her ground against the political veteran Langevin, who is heavily favored, in a televised live debate on Aug. 30 but didn’t have the same luck the next day during a news conference outside the representative’s Rhode Island campaign headquarters. Lawless was forced to shout over a lawnmower, dump truck and leaf blower during her speech, according to the Providence Journal.

Langevin’s campaign spokeswoman said his campaign had nothing to do with the interruptions. “Those are working people, and they had a job to do. We have nothing to do with their schedule,” she told the Journal.

A June Brown University poll of 131 voters who said they were likely to vote in District 2’s Democratic primary found Langevin ahead of Lawless by a margin of 68 to 11 percent.

No shortage of Republican candidates for mayoral primary

Providence may not exactly be a hotbed of Republican politics, but the party has two candidates facing off in the Sept. 12 primary for the chance to challenge incumbent Mayor David Cicilline ’83 in November’s general election. One candidate, David Talan, is a computer systems analyst. His opponent, Dan Harrop, is a practicing physician and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown. Talan, the current president of the Providence Republican City Committee, ran for mayor four years ago. Harrop, the PRCC’s Treasurer, is no stranger to politics either – he ran twice in the past against District 3 State Rep. Edie Ajello.

Ward 2: Rita Williams faces strong challenge

Rita Williams has held Ward 2’s City Council seat for the past 16 years, but political newcomer Cliff Wood will give her a run for her money in the Democratic primary. Williams, the council’s deputy majority leader, heads the council’s ordinance committee, which reviews all zoning legislation. Wood’s first job in Providence was working for downtown developer Buff Chace’s firm Cornish Associates, and he most recently worked in Cicilline’s administration as head of the Department of Art, Culture and Tourism.

Williams has questioned Wood’s loyalties in a recent interview with the East Side Monthly, saying it is “important to have a City Council that doesn’t always automatically do the mayor’s bidding.”

“Nonsense,” Wood told the East Side Monthly. “Anyone who knows me knows I speak my mind.”

Voter turnout for the Williams-Wood primary is hard to predict because Ward 2 has one of the highest percentages of unaffiliated registered voters in the city. This makes them ineligible to vote in primary elections unless they register temporarily with a party. This means that some independents might register temporarily as Republicans in order to cast their votes in the close Republican Senate primary race between incumbent Lincoln Chafee ’75 and Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey.

Mollis: de Ramel a Republican?

North Providence Mayor A. Ralph Mollis, a candidate for secretary of state, filed a complaint last month with the Federal Election Commission over a contribution to President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign made by his Democratic primary opponent, Guillaume de Ramel. Mollis has said the suspicious check shows de Ramel’s “Republican ties” and raises questions about his integrity.

A $1,000 check de Ramel wrote to “Bush Cheney ’04” in August 2003 paid for a ticket for his wife, Molly de Ramel, to attend a fundraiser at the home of state Republican committeewoman Eileen Slocum. Molly de Ramel was a reporter for the Fox News Channel from 1997 to 2003 and is currently Brown’s director of media relations.

In what de Ramel’s campaign manager, Tony Marcella, referred to as a “frivolous” charge, Mollis is contending that de Ramel violated a section of federal election law that forbids a person from making a contribution in the name of another person.

“It’s her money also,” Marcella told the Providence Journal. “He’s married to Molly. What’s his is Molly’s.”

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission is currently investigating another complaint related to the Democratic primary for secretary of state – this one filed by de Ramel against Mollis. The complaint alleges that a fundraising letter sent out by Mollis’ campaign manager – who is also Mollis’ chief of staff – constitutes soliciting funds from town employees, which is barred by the state ethics code.

According to the Providence Journal, Marcella has also accused Mollis of taking money from convicted criminals and people with ties to organized crime. Mollis accused de Ramel in August of Italian-bashing.

In a Rhode Island College survey conducted between Aug. 28 and Aug. 31, 22 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they will vote for de Ramel, 18 percent said they will vote for Mollis and 60 percent were undecided or not planning on voting.

The winner of the primary will face Republican Sue Stenhouse, who has also run into recent money trouble – she missed the application deadline to receive public matching funds.

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