Tagrhode island

Stories about Rhode Island

Rhode Island Supreme Court justice set to retire in December

Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Francis Flaherty is retiring on December 31, 2020. Flaherty announced plans to pursue other interests following his retirement.

Flaherty earned a bachelor’s degree from Providence College in 1968. He earned a J.D., cum laude, from Suffolk University Law School in 1975.

Flaherty’s career experience includes working as an attorney in private practice in Warwick, Rhode Island, serving as an assistant city solicitor, and serving with the Warwick City Council from 1978 to 1985. Flaherty was elected Mayor of Warwick and served from 1984 to 1991. He also served as a member of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education from 1988 to 2003. He was appointed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court by Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) in 2003.

The five justices of the Rhode Island Supreme Court are appointed by the governor with help from a nominating commission. Supreme court nominees must be approved by both the state House and the state Senate.

The current chief justice of the court is Paul Suttell, who was appointed by Gov. Carcieri in 2003. Gov. Carcieri named Suttell as the chief justice of the court in 2009.

The remaining two active justices of the court are:
• Maureen McKenna Goldberg – Appointed by Gov. Lincoln Almond (R) in 1997
• William Robinson – Appointed by Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) in 2004

Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Gilbert Indeglia retired from the court on June 30, 2020. Indeglia’s seat is currently vacant.

In 2020, there have been 22 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements. Thirteen vacancies are in states where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement. Eight are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. One vacancy is in a state where the state supreme court votes to appoint the replacement.

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New Hampshire, Rhode Island hold congressional primaries on September 8

On September 8, New Hampshire and Rhode Island held statewide primaries. A total of six congressional seats—two U.S. Senate seats and four U.S. House seats—were on the ballot. All six incumbents filed for re-election and won their respective primaries. The primary winners advanced to the general election on November 3.

New Hampshire

Incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D) won the Democratic primary for her Class II Senate seat, advancing over two challengers with 94% of the vote. Bryant Messner won the Republican primary for the seat. With 98% of precincts reporting, he secured over 50% of the vote to the second-place finisher’s 42%.

In New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, incumbent Chris Pappas advanced unopposed from the Democratic primary. He will face Republican Matt Mowers in the general election after Mowers won the Republican primary with 59% of the vote. In the 2nd District, incumbent Annie Kuster (D) secured 93% of the vote to win the Democratic primary. With 98% of precincts reporting, Steve Negron advanced from the four-candidate Republican primary with 48% of the vote.

Rhode Island

In the race for Rhode Island’s Class II Senate seat, both incumbent Jack Reed (D) and Republican challenger Allen Waters advanced from their respective primaries unopposed.

Incumbent Rep. David Ciciline (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District seat. No Republican filed in the race, so Ciciline won’t face major-party opposition in the general election. Two independent challengers will be on the ballot. In the 2nd District, incumbent Jim Langevin (D) earned 66% of the vote to advance from the Democratic primary. Republican Robert Lancia won the two-candidate Republican primary with 73% of the vote.

These primaries were the 47th and 48th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The 49th primary will be held on September 15 in Delaware.

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September 8 primary review: Unofficial results from New Hampshire and Rhode Island indicate majority of opposed incumbents defeated primary challengers

Image of a red sign with the words "Polling Place" a pointing arrow.

New Hampshire and Rhode Island held statewide primaries on September 8, 2020. Candidates ran in elections for the following offices.

New Hampshire:
• Governor: Incumbent Chris Sununu (R) faced two primary challengers and advanced to the general election. He faces Dan Feltes (D) and Darryl Perry (L) in the general election.
• Executive Council (5 seats): Three incumbents—two Democrats and one Republican—filed for re-election. All three incumbents were unopposed and advanced to the general election.
• State Senate (24 seats): Twenty-one incumbents—11 Democrats and 10 Republicans—filed for re-election. Three incumbents faced a primary challenger. Of these, one incumbent, David Starr (R-1), lost his bid for re-election. The remaining 20 incumbents advanced to the general election.

• State House of Representatives (400 seats): Three-hundred and twenty-two incumbents—198 Democrats and 124 Republicans—filed for re-election. Ninety-six incumbents faced a primary challenger. As of September 10, eight incumbents had lost their bids for re-election (four Democrats and four Republicans), 281 incumbents advanced, and 33 incumbents’ races had not been called.

Rhode Island:
• State Senate (38 seats): Thirty-four incumbents—29 Democrats and five Republicans—filed for re-election. Ten incumbents faced a primary challenger. As of September 10, the contested incumbents’ races had not been called. Twenty-four incumbents advanced to the general election.

• State House of Representatives (75 seats): Sixty-nine incumbents—61 Democrats and eight Republicans—filed for re-election. Sixteen incumbents faced a primary challenger. As of September 10, no incumbents had lost their bids for re-election, but 15 incumbents’ races had not been called. Fifty-four incumbents advanced to the general election.

Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

New Hampshire has a divided government, meaning no political party holds a state government trifecta. Rhode Island has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

New Hampshire and Rhode Island were the 47th and 48th primaries to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary is on September 15 in Delaware.

Additional reading


New Hampshire, Rhode Island holding primaries September 8

New Hampshire and Rhode Island are holding statewide primaries on September 8, 2020. Candidates are running in elections for the following offices in each state:

New Hampshire
• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (2 seats)
• Governor
• Executive Council (5 seats)
• State Senate (24 seats)

• State House of Representatives (400 seats)

Rhode Island
• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (2 seats)
• State Senate (38 seats)

• State House of Representatives (75 seats)

Candidates in the primary are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Entering the 2020 election, the U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Only 35 out of 100 Senate seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. The U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 198 Republicans, one Libertarian, and four vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

New Hampshire has a divided government, meaning no political party holds a state government trifecta. Rhode Island has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

New Hampshire and Rhode Island are the 47th and 48th primaries to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary is on September 15 in Delaware.

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Rhode Island voters will decide whether to remove “Providence Plantations” from the official state name in November

On November 3, Rhode Island voters will decide a constitutional amendment that would change the state’s official name from “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” to “Rhode Island.”
On July 16, the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed the amendment. It was approved by the state Senate on June 18. The amendment would also remove “Providence Plantations” from state references in the preamble, Article III (Oath of Officers), and Article IX (Commissions).
The amendment was introduced by State Senator Harold Metts (D) on June 17, 2020. The state Senate approved the amendment with a unanimous vote. The amendment was sponsored in the state House by Democratic Representatives Anastasia Williams, Joseph Almeida, Joseph Solomon, Karen Alzate, and Raymond Hull. The state House passed the amendment in a vote of 69-1 with five members not voting.
In support of the name change, Senator Metts said, “Rhode Island built its economy on being a leader in the slave trade in colonial times. This old, festering wound still needs healing. We aren’t proud of that history, and we must stop glorifying a word that is inescapably associated with that terrible past.”
In 2010, 77.9% of Rhode Island voters defeated a similar measure, which was also sponsored by Senator Metts (D).
On June 22, Governor Gina Raimondo (D) signed an executive order to remove “Providence Plantations” from all official legislative and executive branch documents.
The amendment is the first certified measure for the November ballot in Rhode Island. The number of measures appearing on statewide general election ballots between 1995 and 2018 ranged from two to 14 and totaled 75. Of that total, 82.67 percent (62 of 75) of statewide ballots were approved by voters, and 17.33 percent (13 of 75) were defeated.
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Candidate filing period for congressional races ends in Rhode Island

On June 24, the statewide filing deadline passed to run for U.S. Congress in Rhode Island. One U.S. Senate seat and both of Rhode Island’s U.S. House seats are up for election in 2020.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D) filed for re-election to his Class II Senate seat. He was first elected to the seat in 1996. On the U.S. House side, both incumbents—District 1 Rep. David Cicilline (D) and District 2 Rep. Jim Langevin (D)—filed for re-election. Cicilline was first elected to represent District 1 in 2010, and Langevin was elected to represent District 2 in 2000. The Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office is currently assessing the ballot qualifications of all filed candidates.

The primary is scheduled for September 8, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Rhode Island’s statewide filing deadline was the 48th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The final two statewide filing deadlines are in Delaware and Louisiana on July 14 and July 17, respectively.

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Filing deadline passes for state legislative candidates in Rhode Island

On June 24, 2020, the filing deadline passed to run for state legislative offices in Rhode Island. Candidates filed for the following offices:
• Rhode Island House of Representatives (75 seats)
• Rhode Island State Senate (38 seats)

The primary is scheduled for September 8, and the general election is scheduled for November 3.

Rhode Island’s statewide filing deadline was the 48th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on July 14 in Delaware.

Entering the 2020 election, the Rhode Island State Senate has 33 Democrats and five Republicans. All 38 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 20 seats.

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has 66 Democrats and nine Republicans. All 75 seats are up for election, and a majority requires 38 seats.

Rhode Island has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

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Candidate filing period to end for state legislative offices in Rhode Island

The filing deadline to run for state legislative offices in Rhode Island will pass on June 24. The primary is scheduled for September 8, 2020, and the general election will be held on November 3, 2020.

In Rhode Island, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
  • State Senate (38 seats)
  • State House (75 seats)

The next and second-to-last statewide filing deadline in the 2020 election cycle is on July 14 in Delaware.

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Three stay-at-home orders set to expire tomorrow

Stay-at-home orders in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island are set to expire tomorrow. So far, 15 states that were previously under stay-at-home orders let those orders expire. Another seven states never implemented stay-at-home orders.

After these orders expire, the states with the next expiring orders are Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont on May 15.

Although the orders vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure or curtailment of nonessential businesses in the state and requiring all residents to stay home except for essential trips for supplies or outdoor exercise.


Chair of Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee seeks appointment to she state Supreme Court

On April 28, 2020, State Senator Erin Lynch Prata (D-RI), applied to fill retiring Justice Gilbert Indeglia’s seat on the state supreme court.

Senator Lynch Prata is a former clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg. She stated that becoming a supreme court justice “has always been a dream,” and that the position on the state supreme court provides an opportunity for her to “give back to the community in a new way.”

Because she currently holds a political position, she sought an advisory opinion from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission to ensure that her application was not in conflict with the “revolving door” provision in the state code of ethics, which prohibits state legislators from applying to state agencies within a year of their departure from the legislature. In her letter to the ethics commission, she asked that the commission “provide me with guidance as to whether I am correct that the revolving door provision does not apply to a member of the General Assembly who seeks appointment by the Governor to the constitutional office of Supreme Court Justice.”

The code of ethics states that she may seek election to any constitutional office or “be appointed to a senior policy-making position on a general officer’s or general assembly’s staff, or appointment by the governor as a department director.” The code of ethics does specify judgeships in its enumeration of offices which may be sought within the one year time-frame of departing from the state legislature.

Lynch Prata argues a position on the state supreme court is a constitutional office as opposed to a position within a state agency. In an interview on April 28, she said, “The law is clear. If I didn’t think this was an appropriate thing to do, I wouldn’t be doing it.”



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