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It’s official: Portsmouth’s Cortvriend, McGaw big primary winners

Addition of mail ballots widened their already sizeable leads


PORTSMOUTH — Incumbent Rep. Terri-Denise Cortvriend and political newcomer Michelle E. McGaw will be on the November ballot as the Democratic candidates for R.I. House Districts 72 and 71, respectively.

Both Portsmouth women held sizable leads over their opponents when the polls closed after the Primary Election Tuesday, and even widened their leads after more than 700 mail ballots were counted Thursday at the R.I Board of Elections.

Rep. Cortvriend, the endorsed candidate, defeated primary challenger Chris Semonelli of Middletown, 1,193 to 285, taking nearly 81 percent of the vote. 

Before mail ballots were totaled Thursday, she was leading Mr. Semonelli, 499 (77 percent) to 146 votes.

Her tally included 359 votes cast on Election Day at the two polling places in Portsmouth and Middletown, plus another 140 “emergency ballots” that were cast early at town halls.

Mr. Semonelli received 111 votes at the two polling places, plus 35 emergency ballots.

Going into Thursday, Ms. McGaw was trouncing John G. Edwards V, the endorsed candidate, by a margin of 620 to 172 — taking more than 78 percent of the vote. 

That lead increased when 610 mail ballots went to her, compared to 139 for Mr. Edwards — giving her nearly 80 percent of the vote overall. The final tally was 1,230 votes for Ms. McGaw, 311 for Mr. Edwards.

Ms. McGaw’s tally included 462 votes cast on Election Day at the three polling places in Portsmouth, Tiverton, and Little Compton, plus another 158 early votes.

Mr. Edwards garnered 139 votes at the three polling places, plus 33 emergency ballots.

Unendorsed candidates sweep district committee

Not only did Ms. McGaw win a spot on the November ballot, she was the top vote-getter for the five-member Representative District Committee District 71, with 1,270 ballots cast for her. 

She joined a slate of four other unendorsed Democrats who all ran successfully for spots on the committee: Anya R. Wallack (780 votes), Christopher E. Goulart (692), Maureen Evelyn Molloy Morrow (691) and Glenn Diana Sherman (620).

The five endorsed committee candidates all lost: Mr. Edwards (525 votes), Amy J. Canario (436), Kimberley J. Waltz (428), Rep. Dennis M Canario (425) and Brittany T. Edwards (373).

Rep. Canario currently represents District 71. He decided not to run for re-election in November, which vacated the seat.

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Matt Hayes, Portsmouth Times Publisher

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