EAST PROVIDENCE — Sitting State Senate Finance Committee Chairman Daniel DaPonte staved off the challenge of Rep. Roberto DaSilva in District 14, while Gregg Amore edged Tim Chapman for the House District 65 nod and Katherine Kazarian captured the House District 63 race to conclude an intriguing East Providence Democratic primary election Tuesday, Sept. 11.
Voting irregularities slightly marred the results, though likely not enough to turn the election in the favor of those who lost. At least seven cases of confirmed Republican-affiliated voters inadvertently submitting ballots in the Democratic races were found to have occurred by the State Board of Elections at three polling locations in the city. And because the results of the Senate 14 and House 65 races fall within the margin, it’s likely both will require a recount of some sort due to the errors of poll workers.
In the end, it appears Sen. DaPonte, the endorsed Democrat, returns to his seat by virtue of his 2,050-1,980 (50.9 percent to 49.1) victory over Rep. DaSilva in the hotly contested District 14 campaign. Sen. DaPonte finished Tuesday’s voting with a 30-vote margin then added 40 more to his tally when absentee ballots were tabulated. There is no opponent awaiting Tuesday’s winner in the November General Election.
“I ran on my record. If I were to run again, I would run the same campaign,” said Sen. DaPonte, who will begin his eighth term in office once the election results are certified.
“Am I happy? Yes. I will continue to represent the citizens of the District 14 and all of East Providence,” he added. “I’m proud of my campaign. We ran a campaign based on the facts instead of what was being said in soundbites.”
In the House 65 primary, Mr. Amore upended Mr. Chapman, the endorsed candidate, by a margin of 845-784 (40.5-37.6%). The third candidate in the running, Jim Miller, tallied 456 votes.
“I thought it would be really close, especially considering the support my opponent received from the DaPonte camp and with (presumptive Senate District 18 winner) Billy Conley working for him. And I’m not surprised with how many votes Jim Miller got in Kent Heights,” said Mr. Amore, who now faces Moderate candidate Joe Botelho in November’s General Election.
(Editor’s note: Mr. Amore’s initial quote has been updated for clarity.)
“But I thought Tim ran a really good campaign. He was a gentleman all the way through,” he added. “My campaign worked very hard and there’s a lot of work still ahead. But I’m happy to be where we are.”
Ms. Kazarian, the endorsed Democrat, bettered a four-person field in District 63 with 829 votes (36.7%). Robert Britto was second with 649. Sitting School Committee Chairman Charlie Tsonos was third with 516 and Samuel Lovett was fourth with 264.
“Spending the summer walking the district, walking streets I never knew existed makes a night like tonight so worthwhile,” said Ms. Kazarian, who faces Independent David Sullivan in the November general.
Tenaciously fought and nasty at times, the race between Sen. DaPonte and Rep. DaSilva, who opted not to run for his reconfigured House seat, ended as tight as anyone could have expected.
“I didn’t know if the election was going to be this close to be honest,” Sen DaPonte said. “I thought there was a lot of confusion in this election all the way to the end. I think a lot of people thought my opponent was running for re-election.
“But I’m proud of my campaign, all the hard work we put in. I believe we ran a campaign on the issues. People didn’t always agree on pension reform. People always didn’t agree on some of the tougher issues, but I did what I thought was best for the state and the City of East Providence.”
DaPonte’s strongholds came mostly from East Providence’s Rumford and center-City sections. He won the Hennessey School precinct 347-275, Francis School 311-235, City View Manor 235-160 and City Hall 305-240. DaSilva earned an overwhelming 525-352 win in his home area of Ward 3 in the Kent Heights precinct. He also fared well at Whiteknact School (206-135) and at Martin Middle School (275-261).
“I’m proud of the way my organization conducted this campaign. I’m proud of the people of East Providence. I thought they sent a very strong message to my opponent,” Rep. DaSilva said. “I hope this makes him a better representative of the people. I hope it makes him a better state senator because he has been lacking in that regard.”
Rep. DaSilva did not say if he planned to ask for a recount, though it seems likely he would do so. The irregularities in the voting, which one of his polling checkers first spotted early Tuesday at the Kent Heights precinct, appear to be enough cause as well as the narrow 70-vote margin.
“I’m still thinking about it,” Rep. DaSilva said late Tuesday night. “I’m going to talk to some people. My biggest concern is how can they determine how many Republicans actually voted in the Democratic Primary. It’s disconcerting to have this happen because I know we all worked hard during this campaign.”
City Council results
Incumbents Bruce Rogers and Thomas Rose tallied impressive totals in their primary races for the unaffiliated City Council spots from Wards 2 and 3, respectively.
Mr. Rogers, the Council president and ceremonial mayor, received 789 votes (50.3 percent) to top the vote-getters in Ward 2. He’ll face Helder Cunha, the second-place finisher Tuesday with 492 votes, in the November general. Melissa Abbott received 195 votes in the primary while Burton Plamondon tallied just 93.
Mr. Rose, the ceremonial assistant mayor, received 922 votes (55.7%) in the Ward 3 primary. Candace Seel was second Tuesday with 600 votes and advances to face Mr. Rose in the November general. Little-known Daniel Dalton picked up 133 votes.
To view all East Providence results from Tuesday’s election, including those of various committees, click the following link…