The most intriguing Rhode Island Senate races of 2020

The Rhode Island State House in Providence.
The Rhode Island State House in Providence.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

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Happy Friday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and even though I’m a fan of Everton, I believe that I’m contractually obligated to congratulate Liverpool on winning the Premier League. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 16,640 confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, after adding 40 new cases. The state announced eight more deaths, bringing the total to 920. There were 103 people in the hospital, 18 in intensive care, and 17 were on ventilators.


Yesterday, we looked at some of the major races this year in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Now it’s time to move on to the Senate.

All 113 members of the General Assembly are up for reelection this year, although we already know that more a third of them don’t have an opponent.

Here’s a quick overview of the most interesting races in the Senate.

⚓ Senate District 5 (Providence) is the race everyone is watching. Incumbent Senator Sam Bell is up for reelection for the first time, and he’s squaring off with City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan in the Sept. 8 Democratic primary. Bell is a progressive who has antagonized members of Senate leadership throughout his first term in office, so Ryan is going to have plenty of support from them. Bell is considered an excellent campaigner and the district continues to move to the left, but Ryan is a tireless advocate for her neighborhood and has won two competitive council races since 2014.

⚓ In Senate District 6 (Providence), longtime Senator Harold Metts is facing a spirited Democratic primary challenge from Tiara Mack, a Brown University graduate who is supported by the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, a progressive organizing group. The district is unique because it includes part of the East Side, but then runs all the way to the South Side.


⚓ Who isn’t running to replace Senator Erin Lynch Prata in District 31 (Warwick)? While Lynch Prata pursues a spot on the Supreme Court, four Democrats (City Council President Steve Merolla, Kendra Anderson, Brian Dunkley, and Michael Mita) are running in the primary. Merolla has the most name recognition, but he has clashed with labor unions in recent years. Anderson is a progressive who had a head start because she was planning to primary Lynch Prata. At this point it’s anyone’s race. And don’t count out the Republicans in this district, either. John Silvaggio and Scott Zambrano have their own primary.

⚓ Senate District 36 (Narragansett, North Kingstown) has an open seat because Democratic Senator James Sheehan is stepping away. On the Republican side, former state representative Doreen Costa is running, and she might have the most name recognition in the race. She’s a die-hard supporter of President Trump, so keep an eye on how people in the district feel about him. On the Democratic side, former North Kingstown councilwoman Ellen Waxman, Robert E. Craven, and Alana DiMario are running in a primary that is very much too close to call at this point. Craven, whose dad is a state representative, appears to have the support of Senate leadership.



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.

⚓ Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza announced the city will place the statue of Christopher Columbus in storage until a committee decides what to do with it. The administration would prefer that it goes to a museum, but you can expect advocates on Federal Hill to push for the monument to be moved to that neighborhood.

⚓ As other states in the northeast enact quarantine orders for people traveling from coronavirus hotspots, my colleague Kay Lazar looks at whether New Englanders should be worried about tourists this summer.

⚓ As discussions continue in Rhode Island and across the country about reforming police departments, Coleman Hughes has a smart op-ed in the Globe urging policymakers to listen to cops as they make decisions.

⚓ This will make you think: As surveillance continues to play a role in all of our lives, Iyad Rahwan and William Powers write that data mining is a threat to our autonomy, but it also offers opportunities to build a more humane world.

⚓ Rhode Map readers have sent another round of Happy Birthday wishes to: Brenda G. Hughes (72), Matthew Petteruto, Matt Sheaf, Colleen Medeiros Bernier, Pepper Travers, Noah Turner (20), Melissa Truslow (50), Julia Holstein (2), Richard Corso (49), Lillianna Kenyon (21), Emma Viveiros (24), Margery Lerner (70), Martha Sholes, Joe Roch (40), Krissy Gately (18), Alex Morse (33), Roger Boudreau (71), Barbara Fields, Lauren Vella, Brian Lalli, Tessa Roy, Vin Marzullo, Madeleine List, and Danielle North.



Politics: Democrat Joe Biden has jumped out to a big lead over President Trump in both national and swing state polls. The Globe’s James Pindell explains how it has happened.

Cornavirus: These charts show you where in the country coronavirus cases are increasing.

Food: It’s berry season, and I’m still accepting pies in exchange for birthday mentions. Here are a few delicious-sounding recipes to consider.

Marijuana: This is a fascinating story about a man whose early advocacy for marijuana may have cost him a full professor’s position at Harvard.


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.

Governor Gina Raimondo’s coronavirus update is scheduled for 1 p.m.

⚓ The Providence-to-Newport ferry is back in action starting today.

⚓ The URI Board of Trustees is hosting an all-day meeting today.

⚓ Need something fun to do on Saturday? Check out this ghost tour in Newport.

⚓ Need something fun to do on Sunday? Why not try a salsa class on the Providence pedestrian bridge?

⚓ 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 on Monday.

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