Although polls had consistently predicted the defeat of the proposed Harrah’s Entertainment-Narragansett Indian casino, the 63 percent-37 percent margin against the proposal revealed a surprising amount of opposition, particularly after Harrah’s spent more than $12 million in pushing Question 1.
ON THE OUTS: Chafee.
Rhode Island voters otherwise proved to be in a liberal mood, approving a variety of ballot questions, including measures to allow felons to vote after their release from prison, and another earmarking $50 million for the statewide construction of affordable housing.
Elizabeth Roberts, Patrick Lynch, Ralph Mollis, and Frank Caprio, the respective Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and general treasurer, all won comfortable victories, as did Langevin and Kennedy. The biggest winner of the night, in terms of the margin of victory, was Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline, who attracted 83 percent of the vote against Daniel Harrop, a far lesser-known GOP challenger.
As reporters milled in the Biltmore ballroom early in the evening, exit polls suggested the possibility of a Fogarty upset, powered by labor anger against Carcieri and an aggressive Democratic get-out-the-vote effort. Ultimately, though, Fogarty fell short, continuing — in the lone bright spot for the Rhode Island GOP — the Republican Party’s stranglehold on the governor’s office.
It was hard not to wonder how things might have been different if Fogarty, who seemed not to hit his stride until late in the campaign, had brought an earlier and more aggressive challenge to Carcieri.
Still, Bob Walsh, head of the National Education Association-Rhode
Iland, said the close shave should serve notice of the need for Carcieri to focus more attention on “all the
red meat issues that Charlie Fogarty talked about,” and to extend an olive branch to “a lot of constituencies that the governor hasn’t given the time of day.”
Will the governor pursue a more conciliatory course, or charge full-speed ahead? Stay tuned.