PROVIDENCE — Democrats maintained their stranglehold on Rhode Island’s top legal office Tuesday, as Attorney General Peter Neronha cruised to another four-year term, the Associated Press projects.
Neronha, a former US attorney who was elected in 2018, easily defeated Republican Charles Calenda in a race where the two candidates rarely met face to face. Democrats have held the attorney’s general’s office since 1999.
With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Neronha had 59.7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections.
Neronha ran unopposed in September’s Democratic primary, and Calenda struggled to build a statewide campaign with few resources and little institutional support from a party that focused on more competitive races for governor and the 2nd Congressional District.
Although the attorney general’s office can be a landmine for political controversy, Neronha has largely avoided significant blunders during his first four years on the job. His office lost a money laundering case against political operative Jeff Britt in 2020, but he didn’t face significant blowback in Rhode Island political circles.
Neronha has developed a reputation as attorney general for being willing to explain his decisions at length — even when his office doesn’t bring charges against individuals. He was highly critical of the efforts by Lifespan and Care New England to merge into one hospital group, and his office ended up denying their application. (The Federal Trade Commission also opposed the merger and filed suit to block it.)
Calenda, who worked as a special assistant attorney general until 2018, pitched himself as an independent voice, but he never gained traction among voters.
Neronha’s victory means he’ll be the only statewide office holder who is term-limited in 2026, which is likely to lead to speculation about his political future in the coming years.