Special election held Tuesday in Rhode Island after member-elect declines oath of office

A special general election for District 68 of the Rhode Island House of Representatives is scheduled for March 5, 2019. The primary was held on February 5, and the candidate filing deadline passed on December 28, 2018.
 
The special election was called after Representative-elect Laufton Ascencao (D) announced he would not take the oath of office following his election on November 6, 2018. He said he had lied to local Democratic town committee members about producing a six-page mailer prior to the election. He also produced a fake expense invoice for the mailer and sent it to the committee members. When he announced his decision not to take office, Ascencao said the brochure had been 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.
 
Entering the special election, Kenneth Marshall holds the District 68 seat as a Democratic member. Marshall is running in the election as an independent candidate. He was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014 and 2016; he did not run for re-election in 2018 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 passed, and Marshall then decided to pursue an election bid as an independent.
 
Marshall faces Democrat June Speakman, Libertarian William Hunt Jr., and independent candidate James McCanna III on Tuesday.
 
In November 2018, all 75 Rhode Island House of Representative seats were up for election. At the time of the election, Democrats held 64 seats to Republicans’ 11. Following the election, the party maintained its majority in the House. The next regular elections for the chamber are scheduled for November 3, 2020.



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Mandy Gillip

Mandy Gillip is a project director at Ballotpedia and can be reached at mandy.gillip@ballotpedia.org

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