Happy Saturday! Here’s another edition of my weekend column for WPRI.com — as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to tnesi@wpri.com and follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

1. A year ago at this time, there was basically no doubt Democratic primary voters were about to nominate Seth Magaziner for Rhode Island’s open congressional seat. But the current race to replace David Cicilline has been far more unpredictable — and remains far harder to handicap. An internal poll made public this week by Gabe Amo’s campaign reinforces what everyone already assumed: Aaron Regunberg has supplanted Sabina Matos as the frontrunner, leaping from 9% to 28% in his rivals’ surveys over the last two months. The downside for Regunberg: his strength has become clear early enough that his opponents — and the outside groups that support them — could rain a fusillade of attacks on him over the final 10 days. As for Amo, he had an obvious rationale for releasing an internal poll despite some qualms among his advisers: convincing skeptical observers he has a real shot to win the primary, and pouring cold water on Matos’s suggestion Tuesday that she’s the only viable alternative for anti-Regunberg voters. Amo too now has a target on his back, and is sure to be challenged more than he has been to date. As for Matos, her team insists she still has a path to win, though Amo’s poll suggested the signature scandal has done serious damage to her standing with primary voters. One ominous sign for Matos: the deep-pocketed outside groups supporting her made no further outlays on her behalf this week, and the Laborers union still hasn’t reported any spending on her behalf at all. Sandra Cano’s advisers were dismissive of the Amo poll, which found her tied with Matos at 11%, and they remain steadfast in their belief that her endorsements and ground game can lead to an upset on Sept. 5. All four Democrats are spending this weekend preparing for one of the biggest moments of the campaign: Tuesday night’s live TV debate on WPRI 12, the only one in prime time and featuring the participants all together at once.

2. One of the big outstanding questions for the final full week of the primary is how big a factor Don Carlson will be. On Friday, Carlson released a video message acknowledging he broached a romantic relationship with a student while teaching at Williams College in 2019, walking back his earlier denials of Target 12’s investigative report regarding the episode. Carlson has indicated he remains committed to the 1st District race, telling The Globe’s Steph Machado he plans to participate in Tuesday’s WPRI 12 debate and holding a dinner for supporters at Rumford Towers on Friday night. He has the resources to remain a factor: new reports show Carlson was the best-funded candidate in the primary as of Aug. 16, sitting on $266,000, and he has significant personal wealth to tap if he wants to keep spending. Only three other candidates had at least $100,000 in the bank: Aaron Regunberg ($191,000), Gabe Amo ($155,000) and Sabina Matos ($126,000). All four are planning robust TV advertising campaigns for the final stretch, and hoping for reinforcement from outside spending groups. (Update: Carlson suspended his campaign on Sunday.)

3. There hasn’t been a Rhode Island primary for a major office with this many candidates in living memory, and the crowded field poses unique challenges for debate moderators as we strain to balance so many voices. That challenge has certainly been top of mind for Tim White and me as we prepare questions and consider topics for our debate next week. Steph Machado has already tackled the problem when she joined her Globe colleague Ed Fitzpatrick in moderating a debate last week at Roger Williams University. “We really narrowed in on specific questions where we first of all thought that there might be daylight between the candidates, since nine of them agree on almost everything,” Machado said on this week’s Newsmakers. “And then questions where you had to give a clear answer. And we were very clear with them that they had to be concise, that we would cut them off — and they pretty much obeyed.” A strong showing in a debate can turbocharge a campaign — just ask Helena Foulkes, whose widely praised performance in last year’s WPRI 12 gubernatorial primary debate helped her to nearly close a huge polling gap against incumbent Dan McKee. “I think some of these candidates who are trailing are looking to have a breakout moment Tuesday night,” 12 News political analyst Joe Fleming said on Newsmakers. “It’s going to be very tough with nine candidates on stage, but it could propel them, especially if we’re talking about a small turnout.” Suffice to say, you’ll want to tune in Tuesday night at 7.

4. And speaking of Helena Foulkes, another late-breaking development that lifted her in the final week of last year’s gubernatorial primary was an endorsement from The Boston Globe editorial page. That raises a question: will The Globe weigh in to support one of the 1st District candidates before Sept. 5? Because The Providence Journal terminated its editorial page back in 2020 to save money, a Globe endorsement now has outsized impact in Rhode Island even though its headquarters is across the border in Massachusetts. And in a race as competitive as this one, candidates will take any advantage they can get.

5. Speaking of Massachusetts, here’s some history made this week, via Politico’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Sen. Ed Markey is officially the longest serving member of Congress representing Massachusetts, surpassing late Sen. Ted Kennedy as of today. Markey has served for 46 years and 293 days and is runner-up for longest serving member of Congress still in office, behind Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.”

6. Will AG Neronha’s office bring criminal charges over Sabina Matos’s apparently forged campaign signatures before the November special election? “Possibly,” the attorney general told Dan Yorke on his TV show this week, adding that the law-enforcement agencies involved in the probe “all understand that we need to move as quickly as possible.”

7. When is Providence going to fix its many broken sidewalks? Our Alex Leslie talked with Mayor Smiley about his plans to address the problem.

8. “Gina Raimondo is seizing her moment.” That’s the opening sentence on a new Wall Street Journal story about our former governor’s high-stakes trip to China.

9. Bracing stuff from Noah Smith: “As with health care and housing and train stations and everything else, Americans have deluded themselves into believing that as long as they allocate dollars to something in a spreadsheet, then valuable and useful real stuff is actually getting built. Again and again, that delusion has been shattered when excess costs and interminable delays block the paper dollars from becoming real tangible goods.”

10. Over at the Ocean State Stories website, Dana Richie has a great profile of the Warwick Beacon’s John Howell, a living legend of Rhode Island newspapering.

11. From The Guardian, a wonderful tribute to Tony Bennett by kd lang.

12. Set your DVRs: This week on Newsmakers — a political roundtable previews next Tuesday night’s 1st Congressional District primary debate. Watch Sunday at 5:30 a.m. on WPRI 12 and 10 a.m. on Fox Providence, or listen on the radio Sunday at 6 p.m. on WPRO. You can also subscribe to Newsmakers as a podcast on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts). See you back here next Saturday morning.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.