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Local Democrats endorse ex-Rep. Carnevale to return to State House

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former state Rep. John Carnevale will be the endorsed Democratic candidate for his old House seat in the Sept. 12 primary, even as he remains under indictment for lying about whether he lived there two years ago.

The Democratic Representative District Committee for House District 13 voted Wednesday to endorse Carnevale for the Sept. 12 primary, snubbing incumbent Rep. Ramon Perez, according to a document filed with the secretary of state’s office this morning.

Local party district committees are usually packed with allies of the incumbent, and District 13’s members remain Carnevale supporters. Committee members are elected in party primaries every four years, and they meet every other year to endorse candidates, scheduling their own meetings.

House District 13’s Democratic committee is chaired by Providence resident Marc Castaldi. (Castaldi was in the news in 2015 when he pleaded no contest to manipulating city tax records.) Other members elected in 2014 are Paul Despres of Providence; Flora Turchetti of Providence; Lauren Garzone of Johnston; and former Rep. Steven Smith, who recruited Carnevale as his successor a decade ago.

Carnevale represented District 13 from 2009 until he abandoned his re-election bid in 2016 after an investigation spurred by Target 12 led to him being kicked off the voter rolls in Providence. He was subsequently indicted for perjury, and has his next pre-trial hearing on July 13.

The District 13 committee’s decision means Carnevale will appear on the Sept. 12 primary ballot with a mark next to his name informing voters he is the endorsed Democratic candidate. Carnevale and Perez are two of three Democrats who filed for the primary, along with Mario Mendez. Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he is backing Perez.

The group backed Carnevale on the same day the National Organization for Women’s Rhode Island chapter criticized his comeback campaign, citing not only his current indictment for allegedly lying but also his previous prosecution for sexual assault. (Those charges were dropped when the victim died suddenly.)

Sulina Mohanty, who chairs the Rhode Island Democratic Party women’s caucus, tweeted Wednesday: “There are some things Dems can disagree on, but condemning a man like this should be an easy thing for everyone to come together on. Criminal behavior like his should be an absolute disqualification and leaders need to state that clearly.”

In addition to backing Carnevale, the District 13 Democrats also endorsed Garzon for Democratic state committeewoman and A. Vincent Igliozzi for Democratic state committeeman. They endorsed incumbent members Castaldi, Despres, Turchetti and Smith to continue serving on the committee, as well as George Rodriguez of Providence to join it.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Tim White contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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