Raimondo re-elected as RI gov; Dems win big

WPRI 12 midterm election coverage

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democrats swept to victory in all of Rhode Island’s statewide races Tuesday, including a convincing win from incumbent Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Incumbents Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea all scored easy wins against little-known opponents, while newcomer Peter Neronha faced little opposition in his bid to be attorney general.

Here are some of the latest Election Day headlines, followed by quick cheat sheet.

The Latest:

9:30 p.m. Republican Allan Fung has conceded to Gov. Gina Raimondo.

9:00 p.m. Republican Steven Frias has conceded to House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello in House District 15.

8:50 p.m. Democrat Joe Solomon has been elected mayor of Warwick, Eyewitness News projects.

8:47 p.m. Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt has won re-election, Eyewitness News projects.

8:45 p.m. Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien has won re-election, Eyewitness News projects.

8:38 p.m. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has won re-election, Eyewitness News projects.

8:33 p.m. Rhode Island voters approved a $250-million school repair bond, Eyewitness News projects.

8:30 p.m. Gov. Gina Raimondo has won re-election, Eyewitness News projects.

8:25 p.m. Peter Neronha has been elected Rhode Island attorney general, Eyewitness News projects.

8:23 p.m. Lt. Gov. Dan McKee has won re-election, Eyewitness News projects.

8:20 p.m. Treasurer Seth Magaziner has won re-election, Eyewitness News projects.

8:18 p.m. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea has won re-election, Eyewitness News projects.

8:17 p.m. Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline have won re-election, Eyewitness News projects.

8:05 p.m.: U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Elizabeth Warren have been re-eleected, CBS News projects.

7:28 p.m.: The polling place at Portsmouth High School was moved to a different building on campus after it was evacuated due to a gas leak. Voting hours were extended there until 9 p.m.

7:09 p.m.: Rhode Island’s voter turnout has eclipsed the 2014 gubernatorial election and currently stands as the second-highest turnout in recent history. Only has 2006 to beat (394,000).

6:02 p.m.: With less than two hours left until the polls close, Rhode Island is on pace to surpass the 2014 gubernatorial election in terms of voter turnout. As of 6 p.m., more than 311,000 residents had cast their votes, which doesn’t include nearly 31,000 submitted absentee ballots.

5:35 p.m.: We’ve learned a handful of ballots were voided due to an issue at a Cumberland polling place.

5:11 p.m.: The R.I. Board of Elections says 285,036 voters have cast their ballots.

3 p.m.: 228,515 Rhode Islanders have voted, according to the R.I. Board of Elections.

1 p.m.: R.I. Board of Elections reports 180,095 voters have cast their ballots so far.

1 p.m.: Widespread rain expected this afternoon, with downpours and strong wind gusts possible. Will that affect voter turnout? Read More: Pinpoint Weather Blog »

11:06 a.m.: 135,393 Rhode Islanders have voted, according to the RI Board of Elections.

7:22 a.m.: Board of Elections said there were reports of ballots jamming at one polling place. Election officials said support staff remains in constant communication via chat, video, and phone.

6:24 a.m.: RI Board of Elections said the voting machine on Prudence Island was successfully replaced and the polling place is operating normally.

6:05 a.m.: RI Board of Elections said a voting machine on Prudence Island experienced technical difficulty. They had to send a replacement until on a ferry. Election officials said ballots were secured and voting continued uninterrupted.

Eyewitness News will have updates and analysis throughout the day on air and on WPRI.com, with full results once they start coming in soon after 8 – including live continuing coverage on WPRI 12, followed by the late news at 10 and 11.

YOUR LOCAL ELECTION HQ: Key Races & Ballot Questions » | Election Results » | Voter’s Guide » | Latest Headlines » | Eyewitness News Polls » | Eyewitness New Debates » 

Raimondo seeks a 2-0 record against Fung

It’s safe to say Democratic incumbent Gina Raimondo has established herself as the favorite in the race for governor. In her rematch against Republican Allan Fung, her advantages include incumbency, a big financial edge, a positive political climate for Democrats, and a strong economy. The result: she led Fung by 11 points in last week’s WPRI 12/RWU poll. There is still a path to victory for Fung, even if it’s a narrow one. He would need to win an overwhelming number of undecided voters and peel off quite a few who are backing Republican-turned-independent Joe Trillo, a thorn in his side all year. Raimondo’s team was feeling confident Monday night, partly because their campaign has invested enormous resources in a robust get-out-the-vote effort coordinated with other Democrats. If Raimondo is successful, there’s a secondary question: can she crack the 50% mark? If so, she’d be the first governor elected with majority support since Don Carcieri in 2006 – and the first Democrat to achieve that since Bruce Sundlun in 1992. (Also, no matter who wins, keep this in mind: Wednesday marks the first day of the 2022 race for governor.)

Cranston voters could upend the State House

Fewer than 11,000 voters are eligible to cast a ballot in Cranston’s House District 15, but their decision will affect all of Rhode Island’s 1 million residents. That’s because they get to decide whether Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello will return to the State House in January, or if he’ll be replaced with Republican challenger Steve Frias. As speaker Mattiello wields enormous power, deciding whether bills live or die, what goes into the budget, which lawmakers lead committees, and how the state Democratic Party operates. Mattiello argues he’s used the office effectively, citing an improving economy, his car-tax phaseout plan, and increased resources for Cranston. But Frias argues there have been too many scandals involving Mattiello’s leadership team, citing the sagas of John Carnevale, Ray Gallison, Frank Montanaro Jr. and now Cale Keable. Win or lose, the result will be felt on Smith Hill. If Mattiello wins, he’s still facing a growing revolt from some House Democrats, though their numbers are not yet large enough to oust him. If he loses, there will be a scramble to select a new speaker.

A sleepy election in Massachusetts

This year’s races in Massachusetts are so sleepy they make Rhode Island look like a Florida-level swing state. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is coasting to re-election, leading Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez by upwards of 40 points in the polls. Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is also in no danger, with consistently large leads over GOP nominee Geoff Diehl. Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy III doesn’t even have an opponent – though Southeastern Massachusetts’ other congressman, Democrat Bill Keating, has a well-funded challenger in Republican Peter Tedeschi. One race to watch is ballot question No. 1, which asks voters to set limits on nurse-to-patient ratios. Polls have been trending against the question after an enormous number of TV and radio ads featuring dueling nurses.

Will a ‘blue wave’ bring big turnout?

Nationwide, all signs point to unusually high turnout on Tuesday for a midterm election. Will the same hold true in Rhode Island and Massachusetts? It won’t take much to beat 2014, which was one of the lowest-turnout elections in recent memory. If there is a so-called “blue wave,” that should translate into strong turnout in these two blue states. For example, in 2006 – another “blue wave” year – nearly 400,000 Rhode Islanders went to the polls, nearing presidential-level turnout, as Lincoln Chafee and Sheldon Whitehouse battled for U.S. Senate. The secretary of state’s office reports roughly 30,000 regular and emergency mail ballots have been requested in Rhode Island this year, up significantly from 2014. It’s important to keep in mind that turnout matters not just for the marquee contests like Senate and governor, where the campaigns may be driving it, but also because it can swamp candidates in lower-profile contests like General Assembly and City Council races.

TRACK IT: Balance of Power »

Control of Congress at stake nationwide

With Democrats in control of both states’ congressional delegations, Rhode Island and Massachusetts aren’t exactly the center of the action in the national battle for Congress. Nevertheless, the outcomes of coast-to-coast U.S. House and Senate races will be felt in Southern New England. As of Monday night, national forecasters were generally in agreement that Democrats would likely take the House, while Republicans would likely keep the Senate. A Democratic-controlled House would change the landscape in Washington, and it would mean more clout for local Congressmen David Cicilline, Jim Langevin, Joe Kennedy III and Bill Keating (as long as they win their own races). Cicilline has already said he will seek House Democrats’ No. 4 job after the election, which would be the highest-profile post for a Rhode Island congressman since Patrick Kennedy ran the party’s campaign arm nearly two decades ago.

LIVE: CBS News Election Coverage »

Watch the Eyewitness News Election Special here for a full preview.

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

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