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RHODE MAP

The cost of power in Rhode Island politics

Rhode Island Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, left, and House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello at a Boston Globe forum in Providence earlier this year.
Rhode Island Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, left, and House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello at a Boston Globe forum in Providence earlier this year.Edward Fitzpatrick/The Boston Globe

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LEADING OFF

Happy Thursday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I need to know how many people end up writing in “the fly” when they vote in this year’s presidential election. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 25,776 confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, after adding 145 new cases. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 1.5 percent, but the first-time positive rate was 5.2 percent. The state announced one more death, bringing the total to 1,126. There were 107 people in the hospital, 10 were in intensive care, and five were on ventilators.

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How much is it worth to House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio to keep hold of their powerful posts atop the Rhode Island General Assembly?

$270,000 and counting.

That’s how much Mattiello and Ruggerio’s campaigns combined to spend between July 1 and Oct. 5, according to filings this week with the Rhode Island Board of Elections.

Mattiello, who is facing a strong challenge from Republican Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, has already reported spending $165,000, and there is still more than three weeks left in his race. He had just under $90,000 left in his campaign account, and it’s difficult to imagine the spending is going to stop anytime soon.

Most of Mattiello’s largest expenditures have been payments to consulting firms like Checkmate Consulting and Winning Ways, which oversees the speaker’s mail ballot operation. Interestingly, the owners of both of those companies (Brad Dufault of Checkmate and Ed Cotugno of Winnings Ways) testified this week in the money laundering trial of Jeff Britt, a former campaign aide to Mattiello.

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By comparison, Fenton-Fung has spent just over $27,000 on her campaign, records show.

Ruggerio is breathing a bit easier because he doesn’t face a general election opponent, but he spent $105,000 to cement his narrow Democratic primary victory in Senate District 4 over nurse Lenny Cioe last month.

The Senate president’s filings show he also paid Cotugno’s Winning Ways to assist with mail ballots. He also spent more than $11,000 on hard-to-miss billboards in the district.

Ruggerio wound up winning the primary by just under 10 percentage points, thanks to a strong performance in North Providence. Cioe carried the Providence section of District 4 with more than 61 percent of the vote.

Cioe reported spending about $15,000 between July 1 and Oct. 5.

Keep in mind that the jobs of House speaker and Senate president only pay slightly more than $30,000 a year, so six-figure campaigns are significant. It’s also worth noting that even if they’re both reelected, Mattiello and Ruggerio will still need to convince their colleagues in each chamber to allow them to keep their leadership posts.

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THE GLOBE IN RHODE ISLAND

⚓ The third day of the money laundering trial for political operative Jeff Britt was dry, but Ed Fitzpatrick reports that Britt’s attorney appeared to make the case that nearly everyone involved in the case lied during the investigation into the political mailer in question.

⚓ With an abundance of slow pigeons and fat rats, Providence is a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet for raptors. My colleague Amanda Milkovits has a fascinating story on the predators that fly about the city.

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⚓ As coronavirus cases tick up in Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo said she is convening a special subcommittee to the vaccine advisory committee that will evaluate and plan for the eventual distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

⚓ Superior Court Judge Melissa Long, Superior Court Judge Joseph Montalbano, state Senator Erin Lynch Prata, lawyer John Roberts and Superior Court Judge Kristin Rodgers have been named the five finalists for a vacant spot on the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Governor Raimondo will now select one of the nominees. Meanwhile, a second spot on the state’s high court is opening up as Justice Francis X. Flaherty plans to retire.

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MORE ON BOSTONGLOBE.COM

⚓ Opinion: The Globe’s editorial board calls on Congress to approve another coronavirus relief package immediately.

⚓ Health: An epidemiology professor at Harvard is warning that winter could bring a “perfect and terrible storm” for the coronavirus.

⚓ Economy: Officials in Massachusetts say the state could be facing a $5 billion budget shortfall.

⚓ Racial justice: The town of Groton was once a gathering place for the Ku Klux Klan, but now residents are fighting back against that reputation.

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WHAT’S ON TAP TODAY

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 tomorrow, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ Day four of political operative Jeff Britt’s money laundering trial begins at 10 a.m., and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is among those expected to be called to the witness stand. You can listen to the livestream here.

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⚓ The House Finance Committee meets at 4 p.m. to discuss the state’s budget performance for the fiscal year that ended on June 30.

⚓ The Public’s Radio is hosting a virtual conversation on the upcoming presidential election at 5:30 p.m.

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

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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.