If you’re curious about why we all got inundated with phone calls, tonnage of glossy flyers (almost indistinguishable from each other by the way) and of course pages of ads in your favorite neighborhood newspaper, last Tuesday’s primary results supply the answer. East Siders vote! Our little patch of Providence accounts for about 20% of the homes in the City. Yet we accounted for almost a third of the total primary votes cast citywide. And without question, the results on the East Side helped swing the election especially in the primary race for mayor.
When the absentee votes are counted, it is expected that Jorge Elorza’s victory will be around a thousand votes. Aided in large part by the support of Brett Smiley and his supporters, Elorza won a whopping 72% of the ballots here, carrying wards one, two and three by some 2,500 votes. The experts had said that Michael Solomon needed to get 40% of the East Side vote to win. And despite the full bore efforts of councilmen Sam Zurier and Seth Yurdin who, along with former Fox Point Representative David Segal, mailed out an impassioned (and very well written) eleventh hour plea to support the City Council president, he didn’t make it.
The extent of Elorza’s East Side performance was impressive. He won all but two of the 12 voting sites, losing only at the Regency site by ten votes and at Martin Luther King where he was tied. His biggest victories came from the Nathan Bishop polling site where he won by over 600 votes (80% of the total cast), Summit by 520 votes (75% of the total) and Hope High by 340 votes (79% of the total).
While Solomon actually won the majority of the wards and had solid support in the Hispanic community, he was not able to offset Elorza’s East Side numbers, nor was he able to gen- erate the large plurality he needed in his home ward.
Gina Raimondo was also the beneficiary of the large East Side primary turnout. She captured 57% of the vote here (compared to 42% statewide). She won all the precincts pretty easily with the exception of Martin Luther King where Mayor Taveras won by ten votes. Her largest vote totals came at Temple Bethel where she won by almost 400 votes (64% of the total cast) and Hope High where she had a 300-vote majority (68%). Maybe because of the Prius, Clay Pell ran poorly on the East Side.
By the way, the solid women’s vote on the East Side also helped propel Nellie Gorbea to a surprisingly strong showing here. Some 60% of our voters supported her (compared to 52% statewide).
In terms of East Side races, two generated the most attention: the one for Gordon Fox’s old seat in the House and the East Side Senate contest between Gayle Goldin and Chris Wall. Aaron Regunberg waged an enthusiastic campaign for the Representative race and ran strongest in the Summit area (where he captured 60% of the vote cast) and weakest at the Epoch polling site where he lost to Heather Tow-Yick. At the four polling sites combined, Regunberg won 51% of the vote. A late email charge by Heather Tow-Yick got her to 35%. Law professor and businesswoman Miriam Ross got 15%. Regunberg still has to defeat Independent candidate Ethan Gyles, an environmental engineer who names ethics reform, the environment, economic growth and education as his priorities.
While the Goldin-Wall race started quietly, it certainly ended with a flourish. More than one East Sider was greeted by up to four glossy mailing from incumbent Goldin the day before the election. Flyer funding we’re told came from a disparate group of supporters... Planned Parenthood, environmental groups and some unions. Meanwhile bolstered by some significant money from the Real Estate Association, Chris Wall went all in at the finish as well.
Undoubtedly aided by the strong turnout of women in support of Gina Raimondo, Goldin cruised to an impressive 69% to 31% victory. For the record, Goldin is now officially returned as our State Senator since there is no Republican running.
Meanwhile longtime incumbent Representative Edie Ajello easily brushed off her opponent Nate Hannah (who backed out of public debates with her by the way), winning 78% of the vote. She will return for her 12th term in the House.
Seth Yurdin also cruised to victory over his opponent Malcolm Reis with 72% of the vote. He still has to face Republican Michael Long, a Cranston policeman. Long was born in Fox Point, however, and lives in Corliss Landing.
As we usually do, we consulted with ESM’s personal political insider who has years of experience polling, organizing and more important, being unfailingly accurate with his predictions.
He offered an interesting counterpoint to the conventional wisdom that Gina won because she was the beneficiary of the split in the union support between Mayor Taveras and newcomer Clay Pell.
“I disagree with that. My numbers show that 60% of Pell support came from women. There’s no way she wouldn’t have gotten enough of his support to get over 50% on her own. She ran a smart campaign. Softening her image initially, positioning herself as a native Rhode Islander who cares. Then she stayed on message at the end emphasizing she’s the only one with private sector experience who knows how to create jobs.”
He also weighed in with his thoughts on the eagerly awaited (or feared) Providence mayoral contest. He noted that Buddy’s raised a lot of money and no one is better at face-to-face poli-ticking than him.
“His numbers indicate a third of the likely voters love Buddy, a third hate his guts but the final third haven’t been here long enough to know him at all or what he did good or bad. This latter group is obviously younger and more likely Hispanic. And while logic suggests they’re more likely to support Elorza, Rhode Island’s never seen a politician quite like Buddy. He loves the job and will not be out-worked. And while it’s clear some independent money will emerge to help the cash-starved Elorza campaign, the danger is a sympathetic backlash against everyone piling on Buddy.”
And as for our own advice for the candidates (as if anyone listens)? For Buddy: Create a team that inspires voters and insures the good Buddy is in control of the bad Buddy. Get someone like Brendan Doherty involved in public safety; Gary Sasse as a key financial administrator. Add some young clear thinkers who care about the City as much as you purport to. And our advice for Jorge: Keep Brett Smiley close by if you want to hold on to the East Side progressives and make sure everyone addresses you as “Judge” every chance you get. And in terms of dealing with the “experience” and “leadership” issues, is there a place for Michael Solomon or someone like him in the equation?