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State primary elections approach


Candidates in state elections have less than a week of campaigning left before the Sept. 11 primary, which will determine the party nominations for each race.


U.S. House of Representatives

Incumbent Rep. David Cicilline '83, D-R.I., will square off against Anthony Gemma in Tuesday's primary to represent Democrats in the general election race for the first district House seat. A WPRI poll conducted Aug. 19-22 shows Cicilline leading Gemma 43.4 percent to 31.1 percent, with 17.7 percent undecided. Since WPRI's May poll, Cicilline's lead has increased from 4 percent to 12 percent. The August poll also showed Cicilline's approval rating up from 32 percent to 40.4 percent since May. In February, when Cicilline was first faulted for allegedly concealing the severity of Providence's financial problems, he had a 14.8 percent approval rating, according to a poll conducted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions. Cicilline has been endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Two weeks ago, Gemma accused Cicilline of committing voter fraud in 2002, 2006 and 2010 - when Cicilline was elected and reelected as Providence mayor and elected to his current seat in the U.S House of Representatives, respectively. Gemma did not offer any proof to support his accusations, and TRP Associates, LLC, the private investigation firm he hired to investigate Cicilline, has not released any evidence. Cicilline has denied all accusations.

The candidates met Tuesday for the second of three scheduled debates. During the debate, Gemma doubled down on his attacks regarding Cicilline's management of Providence's finances and the recent voter fraud allegations. The third debate is scheduled for tonight and will be aired on WJAR-TV Channel 10. Chris Young, who ran for mayor against Cicilline in 2002 and 2006, was excluded from the past two debates but has been invited to participate tonight. Young made national news during his 2010 campaign for Providence mayor when he was ejected from a debate after he refused to set aside a statue of Virgin Mary he brought, serenaded Fox Providence's Elizabeth Hopkins during an interview and proposed to his girlfriend during another debate.

The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Republican Brendan Doherty, former head of the Rhode Island state police, in the Nov. 6 general election contest.



R.I. Senate

Sen. Rhoda Perry P'91, D-Providence, will not be running for reelection after 22 years in the Rhode Island General Assembly. Gayle Goldin, who oversees strategic initiatives at the Women's Fund of Rhode Island, and Maryellen Butke, formerly the executive director of the education nonprofit Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now, will vie to replace her in Tuesday's primary. The match-up has become one of the most expensive in the state. Each candidate has highlighted her experience with public policy, and it appears that the election will hinge on their divergent views on education reform. Butke is a long-term advocate of charter schools and wider use of teacher evaluations. Goldin - who has been endorsed by the National Education Association, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and the Democratic Party - is less supportive of charter schools and believes test results should not replace seniority and peer evaluations in determining teachers' compensation. The winner of the primary will run unopposed in the general election.


U.S. Senate

The state's junior senator, Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, is running unopposed for his party's nomination. Whitehouse was elected to his first Senate term in 2006.


­- With additional reporting by Adam Toobin



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