Sam Zurier, a former Providence city council member who ran on an education-oriented progressive platform, has won Rhode Island’s District 3 State Senate Democratic primary with 1,282 votes — approximately 32% — according to unofficial results from the R.I. Board of Elections reported by WPRI.
Zurier edged out a crowded race of competitors: Geena Pham, a public school teacher, came in second with 982 votes; Bret Jacob, a former staffer of Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, had 908; Hilary Levy Friedman, a visiting assistant professor of education at the University, had 613; and Ray Rickman, a civil rights veteran and former state representative, had 269.
At the time of publication, 4,054 voters cast their ballots in the Democratic primary, according to the unofficial results, a high turnout for a special election.
Zurier will appear on the ballot in the general election Nov. 2 against Republican Alex Cannon. But given the strong Democratic leaning of the district — 63% of registered voters are Democrats — Zurier is ultimately strongly favored to win the state senate seat.
District 3 encompasses most of Providence’s East Side, including College Hill.
Zurier, who served on the Providence School Board and co-founded the East Side Public Education Coalition, ran a campaign focused on improving education in Providence public schools, as well as other progressive issues such as environmental justice, The Herald previously reported .
Candidates in the race drew a wide array of endorsements. Climate Action Rhode Island and Black Lives Matter backedPham, while the Providence Firefighters Union put its support behind Friedman. Rickman was endorsed by the Black Political Action Committee, and Jacob was backed by the Working Families Party. For his part, Zurier garnered the support of his colleagues in state politics, notably City Councilwoman Helen Anthony and State Rep. Edie Ajello.
The special election was called after Sen. Gayle Goldin resigned from her post in August to serve in the Biden administration as a senior adviser for the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. The race was the first Democratic primary in the district since Golden first ran for her seat.
Candidates faced off on a number of issues ranging from social justice to climate change. Pham and Jacobs both ran on progressive platforms that promised to bring change to Providence’s marginalized communities through increased representation, housing reform and a host of other social programs.