Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 38

September 8, 2022

In this issue: Criticisms fly at RI gubernatorial debate, and we announce our final HOTP issue

The Heart of the Primaries final issue of the year is next week

We’ll be sending our last issue of 2022’s The Heart of the Primaries next Thursday. We’ll include results from the final battleground primaries of the year and a roundup of some of the major themes we’ve seen playing out across primaries. 

Also, we’re excited to announce our The Heart of the Primaries reader survey, which we’ll include in next week’s issue. We’d love to hear your feedback on the newsletter!

Massachusetts primary highlight

Secretary of state: Incumbent William Galvin defeated Tanisha Sullivan on Tuesday. As of Wednesday morning, Galvin led 70%-30%.

The Boston Globe‘s Matt Stout wrote:

With Tuesday’s projected victory, [Galvin] sits on the cusp of realizing historic longevity: Should he capture an eighth term in November, he will be poised to pass Frederic Cook, whose 28-year tenure as secretary lasted until 1949, as the longest-serving secretary in state history.

After not facing a Democratic opponent for more than a decade, Galvin has now beat back consecutive intraparty challengers, both of whom pitched themselves as more progressive alternatives.

Sullivan, like former Boston city councilor Josh Zakim in 2018, argued that Galvin had not been aggressive enough in pushing election reforms. She also cast Galvin as “anti-abortion,” echoing a similar line of attack Zakim made, and said she would push the office to tangibly do more to protect abortion rights.

And after a stirring speech at the state party convention in June, Sullivan captured party activists’ attention and the party’s endorsement — again, just as Zakim did four years earlier.

For some Democrats, Sullivan offered a more captivating pitch for change than her predecessor. A 48-year-old corporate attorney and Hyde Park resident, she pitched the office as a potential hub for democracy. She would have been both the first woman and person of color elected secretary, offering a perspective, she argued, that was needed to better engage communities of color and other places where voter participation has long lagged.

But as a first-time candidate, Sullivan struggled to raise funds and capture widespread attention for a down-ballot — and at times bitter — race. It’s also unclear how squarely her criticisms of Galvin as being an obstacle to change landed, given he publicly backed changes such as establishing election-day registration and was a vocal proponent of making expanded mail-in voting permanent.

State legislative incumbents defeated

These figures were current as of Wednesday morning. Click here for more information on defeated incumbents.

No state legislative incumbents lost in Massachusetts’ primaries on Sept. 6, but that may change: There are eight races featuring incumbents—seven Democrats and one Republican—that remain uncalled.

Across the 43 states that have held statewide primaries so far, 205 incumbents, 4.7% of those running for re-election, have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 43 states that have held primaries so far, 11 have Democratic trifectas, 21 have Republican trifectas, and 11 have divided governments. Across these 43 states, there are 5,679 seats up for election, 90% of the nationwide total.

Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial candidates participate in first televised debate

On Aug. 31, NBC 10 News hosted the first televised debate of Rhode Island’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. All five candidates participated: incumbent Gov. Dan McKee, Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, and former Secretary of State Matt Brown. 

The Providence Journal’s Patrick Anderson and Katherine Gregg wrote that candidates “bashed the McKee administration for being the subject of an FBI investigation into an ill-fated education contract.”

Gorbea said, “We cannot have a state that is known nationally for FBI investigations. … That is not the kind of Rhode Island that will generate the kind of economy that works for everybody.”

Foulkes said, “The facts are, days into the governor’s term he gave a $5-million contract to a friend of his for business that we already had where they were charging us $1 million.”

McKee responded, “I know what I have done and what I haven’t done. … And every decision I made as governor of the state of Rhode Island has been in the benefit of the people of the state of Rhode Island[.]”

McKee, Gorbea, and Foulkes have led in endorsements and polling. To watch the full debate, click here.

Gorbea also criticized McKee about the FBI investigation in a campaign ad. McKee countered in an ad saying, “Lies and false attacks, it’s the worst kind of politics.” Foulkes said in a recent ad that she was focused on policy and criticized both Gorbea’s and McKee’s campaign ads.

McKee, formerly lieutenant governor, became governor in March 2021 after former Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) was appointed U.S. secretary of commerce.

The primary is Sept. 13.

Judge upholds two convictions against Delaware auditor, drops one

Two weeks ago, we wrote about Delaware Auditor Kathy McGuinness’ (D) convictions on three misdemeanor charges. On Aug. 30, Superior Court Judge William C. Carpenter upheld two convictions—conflict of interest and official misconduct—and dropped one on structuring (related to allegations over a state contract given to a political consultant). McGuinness appealed the convictions in July.

Delaware News Journal‘s Xerxes Wilson reported that the judge ruled McGuinness’ daughter, Elizabeth McGuinness, who Kathy McGuinness hired as a casual/seasonal employee in the Office of Auditor of Accounts, received special benefits as an employee, constituting a conflict of interest. The misconduct conviction, which Carpenter upheld, was connected to the conflict of interest conviction. Steve Wood, McGuinness’ attorney, said other employees received similar benefits as McGuinness’ daughter, while Carpenter said Wood didn’t bring that up in trial. You can find Carpenter’s full ruling at the end of Wilson’s article.

McGuinness said, “They did not prove that my daughter had any special privilege, nor did she.” 

Wood said, “Once sentenced, Ms. McGuiness intends to appeal her conviction to the Delaware Supreme Court, where we will point out the legal and factual errors that led to her being wrongly convicted.”

McGuinness faces Lydia York in the Sept. 13 primary. York said, “The people of Delaware deserve leaders who can be trusted to always do the right thing and to follow the letter of the law. The current auditor has done the opposite.” 

The state Democratic Party endorsed York in July. 

Competitiveness data: New Hampshire and Rhode Island

We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive New Hampshire’s and Rhode Island’s Sept. 13 primaries are compared to recent cycles. 

New Hampshire

Rhode Island