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It’s going to be a wild election season in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island State House on May 28, 2020.
The Rhode Island State House on May 28, 2020.Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

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Happy Thursday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan all I couldn’t be more excited for the NBA to return. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 15,219 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, after adding 107 new cases. The state announced 10 more deaths, bringing the total to 742. There were 189 people in the hospital, 44 in intensive care, and 30 were on ventilators.


It will be a few weeks before candidates can formally file to run in local elections this year, but there are already plenty of interesting storylines shaping up – especially in the General Assembly.

Between four open Senate seats, at least one open House seat, and a competitive race for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, here’s a quick guide to help catch you up on where things stand on some of the hottest legislative contests this year. (We’ll save the Cranston mayoral race for a separate edition of Rhode Map.)


We already know that four Democratic senators are not seeking reelection this year: Erin Lynch Prata (District 31), Adam Satchell (District 9), Donna Nesselbush (District 15), and James Sheehan (District 36).

District 31 already has a fascinating Democratic primary shaping up with Warwick City Council President Steven Merolla and progressive Kendra Anderson throwing their hats in the ring, and it’s likely you’ll see a union-backed candidate jump in before the filing deadline at the end of the month. As for other hopefuls, former state Representative Joe Trillo tells me that he is considering running for the seat as a Republican or independent. “I’d wake the damn room up,” Trillo joked.


In District 9, Democrats Geoffrey Rousselle and John Burke have opened campaign accounts. On the Republican side, former state Representative Patricia Morgan shot down rumors that she may seek the seat (she didn’t rule out running for her old House seat in District 26, however), but she said she believes a strong candidate will emerge in the race.

Nesselbush and Sheehan only announced their plans to step away last week, but Pawtucket City Councilwoman Meghan Kallman quickly said she would run in the Democratic primary in District 15. Tim Rudd, another Democratic Pawtucket councilman, confirmed he is also considering jumping in that race. In District 36, The Public’s Radio reported last week that former Republican state Representative Doreen Costa and former North Kingstown Councilwoman Ellen Waxman are considering entering the race.

There are several incumbent senators facing serious primaries, but the race everyone is buzzing about is District 5 where Senator Sam Bell has a Democratic primary challenge from Providence City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan.


There aren’t quite as many open seats in the House (at least not yet), but we know Woonsocket Democrat Michael Morin (District 49) is not seeking reelection. He made his announcement this week, so it’s still too early to say who will run for that seat.

In Providence, veteran Democratic Representative Joseph Almeida (District 12) has already closed his campaign account, but he told me this week that he hasn’t made a final decision about whether to seek another term.


Speaker Mattiello (District 15) is squaring off with Republican Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, the wife of the outgoing Cranston mayor, in what looked to be the marquee legislative race of the year before the coronavirus pandemic hit Rhode Island.

Similar to the Senate, there are plenty of incumbents that are sure to see challenges this year. It’s worth keeping an eye on the always-competitive House District 7 in Providence, where Representative Daniel McKiernan is facing off with progressive David Morales.


Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you've got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ The Raimondo administration wants to see at least 1,000 state employees agree to reduce their work schedules by two days a week this summer as part of a federal WorkShare program. The administration hopes to save at least $5 million.

⚓ My colleague Janelle Nanos reports that some restaurant owners are upset with Providence-based company Upserve, which provides point-of-sale systems to those businesses, is tacking on a new fee to customers’ bills.

Ed Fitzpatrick reports that a federal judge on Wednesday began ordering the temporary release of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees because of the threat posed by the coronavirus at the Wyatt Detention Facility.

⚓ Globe columnist Joan Vennochi argues that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker can make a difference if he continues to criticize President Trump’s rhetoric.


⚓ The casinos in Connecticut are already open, and my colleague Andy Rosen went to see how things are going.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ Governor Raimondo’s daily coronavirus update is at 1 p.m.

⚓ State Representative Anastasia Williams and other lawmakers will hold a press conference this morning at the State House to discuss “several areas of systematic racism in Rhode Island government.”

⚓ The House Committee on Corporations is meeting this afternoon to discuss the state’s reopening plan with officials from Commerce Rhode Island.

⚓ Do you ️♥ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.