PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Seven Rhode Island state lawmakers announced Monday they are endorsing U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president, as local politicians begin to pick sides in the Democratic primary.
The group of Democratic incumbents, all women — Sen. Bridget Valverde, Sen. Gayle Goldin, Rep. Edie Ajello, Rep. Rebecca Kislak, Rep. Moira Walsh, Rep. Teresa Tanzi and Rep. Liana Cassar — were among roughly 75 elected officials nationwide announcing they are backing Warren.
“Rhode Islanders know we are stronger when we work together and take care of one another,” Goldin said in a statement. “Over the years, I have had the pleasure of hearing Senator Warren share her vision for the future. I believe she has bold ideas that reflect the values of our community and plans to make those values work for everyone.”
Also on the new list of Warren supporters were two local officials, Pawtucket City Councilor Meghan Kallman and Bristol Warren Regional School Committee Member Adam Ramos.
The announcement was noteworthy in part because it remains relatively rare. Many of Rhode Island’s elected leaders — nearly all of whom are Democrats — have yet to take sides in this year’s contest, a notable reversal from four years ago, when nearly all of them lined up early behind Hillary Clinton.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign has announced a number of local endorsements, including state Sen. Sam Bell, D-Providence. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s Rhode Island backers include Lt. Gov. Dan McKee and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, while Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is supporting former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
But the state’s most prominent politicians, all Democrats — Gov. Gina Raimondo, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin — have all continued to remain neutral, even as the first votes are about to be cast in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“I am thinking about it,” Raimondo told WPRI 12 earlier this month. “I haven’t yet made a decision.”
On the Republican side, President Trump’s re-election campaign announced in October that former state Rep. Doreen Costa and developer Jerry Zarrella would serve as his honorary state co-chairs.
Rhode Island’s presidential primary is April 28.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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