Building a Rhode Island General Assembly for the people

Rhode Island Working Families Party makes endorsements in 2018 state races

Rhode Island Working Families Party is endorsing a strong slate of progressive candidates to build power for state residents in the General Assembly. In the Senate, RI WFP is supporting Val Lawson for the open seat in SD 14 in East Providence and incumbent Sen. Dawn Euer (SD 13 in Newport and Jamestown). In the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the RI WFP is backing incumbents Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (HD 5 in Providence), Rep. Teresa Tanzi (HD 34 representing Wakefield, Peacedale, and Narragansett), and Rep. Moira Walsh (HD 3 in Providence).

RI WFP is supporting newcomer Laufton Ascencao, who is running to represent HD 68 in Bristol and Warren. The HD 68 seat is currently held by Senior Deputy Majority Leader Kenneth Marshall, who announced his retirement after Ascencao launched his campaign. The organization is also endorsing Justine Caldwell who is challenging a Republican incumbent in HD 30 in East Greenwich.

Driven by the need for progressive change in Rhode Island politics, these candidates are committed to championing a $15 an hour minimum wage, protecting the rights of immigrants, women’s rights, and fighting climate change. Rhode Island Working Families Party is a growing political force in the state, challenging incumbents and electing progressive leaders, as well as moving issue campaigns like last year’s passage of the earned sick days bill. The primary election is September 12.

“Rhode Island Working Families Party is supporting candidates committed to bringing real progressive values into the legislature,” said Georgia Hollister Isman, state director of the RI Working Families Party. “While others are more concerned with maintaining and wielding power for its own sake in the State House, we’re committed to training and electing candidates who share voters’ values about economic, racial, social, and environmental justice. With each election cycle, we’re building on our solid bloc of working families lawmakers and changing Rhode Island’s political culture.”

In May, Rhode Island Working Families Party endorsed Rebecca Kislack (HD 4 in Providence) and Liana Cassar (HD 66, representing Barrington) who are running for open seats for the Rhode Island House of Representatives, along with incumbent Sen. Jeanine Calkin, and Bridget Valverde, an insurgent candidate for the Senate seat in SD 35 (East Greenwich, North Kingstown and Narragansett) currently held by a Republican. Rhode Island Working Families Party will provide people power to the campaigns, mobilizing volunteers and members to put boots on the ground to educate voters.

In 2016, RIWFP endorsed the insurgent campaigns of Sen. Calkin, and Reps. Ranglin-Vassell and Walsh who beat conservative Democratic incumbents in the primaries, including the then-House Majority Leader. Since their election, they’ve put voters first, championing measures for fair pay, to raise the minimum wage to $15, and the 2017 passage of the earned sick leave bill. The Rhode Island Democratic Party recently endorsed a woman hostile to reproductive rights, a Trump supporter, and a former legislator with multiple drunk driving arrests — including for vehicular homicide — rather than support the progressive women who WFP has supported. In the ensuing national uproar, the Party rescinded two of the endorsements, but still supports conservative challengers to Rep. Ranglin-Vassell and Sen. Calkin.

District 68 candidate Laufton Ascencao worked on Rhode Island Working Families Party’s campaign to win earned sick days for 100,000 state residents, organizing thousands of Rhode Islanders to send postcards to the State House. ”There is no political organization that has been as significant to me as Working Families Party,” said Ascencao. “WFP doesn’t just represent the issues I care about but shares the mentality I believe we need — push for bold change regardless of who it upsets, and organize constantly so you don’t depend on anyone but the people for power.”

Sen. Dawn Euer is running for re-election in the district that includes Newport and Jamestown. Elected with WFP support in a special election less than a year ago, Dawn has already proven to be an invaluable ally in the Senate as a champion for election reform, environmental justice, and women’s rights.

Val Lawson is a long time teacher running in an open seat in SD 14 in East Providence. She has deep roots in her community. She is also a long time union leader in the NEARI, where she has been fighting for teachers, students, and workers.

Justine Caldwell is taking on a Republican incumbent in HD 30 in East Greenwich. She has a background as an organizer and is deeply involved in her community. She is an outspoken advocate for a woman’s right to choose and ending gun violence.