On February 5, June Speakman defeated Richard Ruggerio in the special Democratic primary for the Rhode Island House of Representatives District 68 seat. Speakman received 73.6 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election night results. She will face William Hunt Jr. (L) and two independents, Kenneth Marshall and James McCanna III, in the special general election on March 5. No Republican candidates filed for the seat either in the special election or last November’s regular election.
On December 5, 2018, Laufton Ascencao (D) announced that he would not take the oath of office for the Rhode Island House of Representatives District 68 seat he had won the previous month. Ascencao admitted that he had lied to local Democratic town committee members about mailing out a six-page political brochure during the election. He also acknowledged creating a fake invoice statement for expenses associated with the mailer, which he said was completed but not in time for it to be published and mailed prior to the election, so there were no actual expenses incurred for it. Ascencao had won the November election with 64 percent of the vote; his only opponent was the Libertarian nominee, William Hunt Jr. His decision not to take office resulted in a special election being called.
Marshall currently holds the District 68 seat as a Democratic member. He was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014 and 2016; he did not run for re-election last year after acknowledging in July 2018 that he had not reported more than $10,000 in campaign contributions. However, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) decided in December 2018 that Marshall’s term would be extended until the special election had passed.
Entering the special election, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has 66 Democrats and nine Republicans. Rhode Island has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.