Sen. Crowley mounting write-in campaign after losing primary

Blackstone Valley

State Sen. Elizabeth Crowley

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — State Sen. Elizabeth Crowley isn’t ready to give up on her legislative career just yet.

Crowley, D-Central Falls, confirmed in an interview Monday that she’s running what she described as “a quiet write-in campaign” to hold onto her seat in the Nov. 3 election, after losing last month’s Democratic primary to Central Falls City Councilor Jonathon Acosta.

“Do I think I’m going to win? Not at all,” Crowley told 12 News. “But you know what? I might fool everybody. What do I have to lose? Nothing. What do I have to gain? My seat back.”

The 68-year-old former city clerk first won Senate District 16 in 2008, when she defeated incumbent Democrat Daniel Issa, but this year she came up well short of Acosta, who received 973 votes against Crowley’s 768. (A third candidate got 187.)

Just 14% of the district’s 13,848 registered voters — two-thirds in Central Falls, one-third in Pawtucket — voted in the Democratic primary. Crowley said she thinks voters were confused by the fact that the primary was held on the same day as Central Falls’ nonpartisan preliminary round for municipal offices such as mayor.

“I know a lot of people who were my supporters who didn’t go out to vote,” she said. “I’ve been approached by several of my fans saying, ‘Please let us have a choice.'”

Jonathon Acosta

Acosta, a 30-year-old doctoral student at Brown University, said he was “a little disappointed” by Crowley’s decision to mount a write-in, saying they spoke twice last week. But he indicated he remains confident he will win on Nov. 3 in the two overwhelmingly Democratic cities.

“I kind of wish she would have rode off into the sunset with a little bit more grace,” Acosta told 12 News. “But if that’s the way she wants to go that’s fine. … We’re going to keep doing what we were planning on doing before she announced. We’re staying the course.”

Acosta was among a group of progressive Assembly candidates who defeated incumbent Democrats in last month’s primary, and was one of the candidates affiliated with the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, a new organization formed to counter the state’s old-school Democratic Party apparatus.

Crowley suggested she was also undone by demographic changes in Central Falls, which was historically a bastion of French-Canadian political power but in recent years has elected a growing number of Hispanic leaders.

“Central Falls has become more of a Hispanic community, and they would probably tend to vote more for their Hispanic brothers and sisters than me,” she said. “But that’s because they don’t know my ethnic background. I’m French-Canadian, but I have such a multiethnic group of family members.”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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