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Elections Roundup: Oct. 2, 2014

Testy TV ads

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, the Republican nominee, challenged the quality and character of each other’s televised campaign advertisements this week.

Fung’s campaign alleges that a new ad for U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., which features Raimondo and airs clips from previous commercials she has run, violates state campaign finance law by using federal funds allotted to Reed’s campaign to help Raimondo’s candidacy, the local NBC 10 affiliate reported.

The Rhode Island Democratic Party, which sponsored the ad, responded that it was an ad “that includes express advocacy for a federal candidate” and is therefore in compliance with the finance laws.

No local news affiliates have pulled the ad, though Fung campaign attorneys sent a “cease and desist” letter to Rhode Island television stations Sept. 30.

The Fung campaign released a new ad this week attacking Raimondo for her support for repaying bond investors in the failed 38 Studios investment, the local ABC 6 affiliate reported. Raimondo has said she did not support the state’s original deal with the bankrupt video game company but that repaying the loan will be better for “Rhode Island’s credibility in the bond markets over the long term,” ABC 6 reported.


Polls and politics 

A new poll from national polling firm Rasmussen Reports showed Raimondo ahead of Fung by 5 percentage points, Rhode Island Public Radio reported. Fung had 37 percent of the vote among a survey of 750 likely Rhode Island voters, while Raimondo took 42 percent. About 11 percent of respondents indicated support for other candidates. Another 11 percent of those surveyed were undecided.

The latest WPRI and Providence Journal poll had former Providence mayor and independent candidate Vincent “Buddy” Cianci up by 6 percentage points over Democratic nominee and former Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza, who had 32 percent of support among likely Rhode Island voters surveyed. Republican candidate Daniel Harrop ’76 MD’79 was in third place in the race with 6 percent of the vote. The poll also reported that 21 percent of voters surveyed had yet to decide which candidate they would support.


Cannabis and campaigns

Write-in gubernatorial candidate Anne Armstrong — running as a Compassion Party candidate — released a campaign ad on her YouTube page Sept. 5 in which she inhales marijuana to illustrate her support for its legalization, which generated attention from local and national media outlets this week.

Armstrong is an outside contender for the seat from a third party that describes itself as “a political and social movement designed to promote a more compassionate and considerate society.” In the video, Armstrong says she smokes marijuana every day to help her focus and that people have “been lied to for a long time” by the government on the dangers of marijuana.

Her campaign centers on the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use. This appears to be the first time that a candidate in a gubernatorial race has smoked marijuana in an ad.

Neither of the major-party candidates — Raimondo and Fung — support legalizing marijuana at the moment.


Unions backing Cianci

The Providence Teachers’ Union announced its endorsement Sunday for Cianci in the mayoral race. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, the union representing the police officers, and the firefighters’ union Local 799 have also endorsed Cianci.

RIPR reported that support for Cianci from these public safety officers’ unions is notable, given that they are backing a twice-convicted felon over Elorza, a former judge. Cianci received the support of most of the city’s public employee unions in his last “comeback bid” in 1990, WPRI reported. The union endorsements allow the union political action campaigns to donate directly to Cianci and distribute promotional material on his behalf.

Elorza has received endorsements from two unions: the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 328 and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 23, according to an Elorza campaign press release.


Split City Council

Four of the 15 members of the all-Democratic Providence City Council have yet to endorse a candidate for the mayoral race.

Six of the councilmembers — Seth Yurdin, Ward 1; Sam Zurier, Ward 2; Nick Narducci, Ward 4; Michael Solomon, Ward 5; Bryan Principe, Ward 13; and Sabina Matos, Ward 15 — have announced their support for Elorza.

Kevin Jackson, Ward 3; Michael Correia, Ward 6; John Igliozzi, Ward 7; Davian Sanchez, Ward 11; and Terry Hasset, Ward 12, have announced they will back Cianci, WPRI reported.

The remaining four councilmembers — Wilbur Jennings, Ward 8; Carmen Castillo, Ward 9; Luis Aponte, Ward 10; and David Salvatore, Ward 14 — have yet to announce endorsements.


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