Rhode Island Working Families Scores Victories in Legislative Races

Rhode Island Working Families Scores Victories in Legislative Races
Progressive organization is changing the conversation about how politics get done in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE – In their first year, Rhode Island Working Families scored several electoral victories and is changing the conversation about politics in Rhode Island. Eight of the candidates endorsed by the organization won their general elections and making the 2017 General Assembly more representative of the state’s working families.

“Rhode Island Working Families has advanced the values of the state’s working families, giving them a collective voice, political heft and weight in these elections,” said Georgia Hollister Isman, state director of Rhode Island Working Families. “We are particularly proud of the places we have been able to support new voices in the political process and first time candidates taking on powerful, conservative incumbents.”

This set of election results proves voters are hungry for public policy that addresses social and economic justice and a wake-up call for conservative Democrats in the state legislature. Two of the more conservative incumbents defeated by Working Families–endorsed candidates in the Democratic primary — John DeSimone and Jan Malik – refused to accept those results and conducted unsuccessful write-in campaign, losing at the polls on Tuesday. Both trumpeted their appeal to conservatives; DeSimone cited his ability to get Trump voters and Malik said, “the conservatives love me.” But the voters in their districts clearly have values more in line with Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Jason Knight, who ran on issues like $15 an hour minimum wage and paid family leave that resonate broadly. Tonight, both embattled democratic nominees won decisively.

“I got into this race to fight for $15 an hour minimum wage and funding schools over prisons. WFP has been a hugely important ally in my campaign. I look forward to fighting with them to make our shared values into real public policy in the State House,” said Marcia Ranglin-Vassell.

WFP candidates were successful across the state beating Republicans in open seats. WFP endorsed candidate who won include Evan Shanley (House District 24 – Warwick) and Susan Donovan (House District 69 – Bristol and Portsmouth).

In addition, WFP defended incumbent legislators who have been champions for working families values, including:

Rep. David Bennett (House District—Warwick)

Rep. Kathy Fogarty (House District 35—South Kingstown)

Rep. Jean Phillipe Barros (House District 59—Pawtucket)

Rep. Lauren Carson (House District 75—Newport)

These victories are added to three WFP candidates that won their primaries in September and did not face general election today: Jeanine Calkin (Senate District 30–Warwick), Rep. Teresa Tanzi (House District 34—South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Moira Walsh (House District 3, Providence).

The Rhode Island General Assembly that will be sworn in in 2017 will be more in line with working families’ priorities. With more supporters of paid sick days, $15 minimum wage and other working families’ priorities, Rhode Island Working Families will work on campaigns to pass these progressive measures.

“Something beyond just winning elections is happening here. Motivated by frustration with Democratic politicians who haven’t fought hard enough for us, Rhode Island Working Families worked with a whole new cohort of community activists who decided to run for office,” said Georgia Hollister Isman.  “Our next task is to organize to make the values of Rhode Island working families into public policy priorities in the legislature. This weeks’ election results are only the beginning.”