RE: The Senate District 29 “Bellwether”
Just a follow up on yesterday’s post regarding the Senate-29 Democratic primary race between incumbent Michael McCaffrey and challenger Lisa Pisaturo, which McCaffrey won by 6% in a low turnout election. A Pisaturo win would have undoubtedly been taken as a sign that the Rhode Island electorate was ready to embrace gay marriage. But what about a loss? It depended on the margin and turnout, I thought. Let’s see. Dan McGowan played it straight:
The Senate Judiciary chairman [McCaffrey] got his first real challenge in years, but was able to hold off Laura Pisaturo, who had strong backing from the marriage equality group, Fight Back RI.
Tonight’s Democratic primaries were not kind to gay marriage supporters, who claimed just one of six key state senate races….After tonight, then, it is hard to see a significant change in the balance of power in a state senate where about half of current members are opposed to gay marriage, a third are in support, and the rest are in the toss-up category…The only consolation for advocates is that none of the races – with the possible exception of Pisaturo’s challenge to state Senator Michael McCaffrey – can be read as a referendum on gay marriage, which was little mentioned on the campaign trail. Indeed, public polling suggests solid majority support for same-sex nuptials in Rhode Island, which bodes well in the long term.
So the results weren’t good for gay marriage advocates but that doesn’t matter because only one race (McCaffrey/Pisaturo) really highlighted it….and polling! Okay. Bob Plain went with the “noble loss” theme:
While both Lauara Pisaturo, of Warwick, and Bob DaSilva, of East Providence, lost, they both had strong showings and only lost to powerful incumbents by a total of of less than 300 votes. That doesn’t speak well for Michael McCaffrey or Dan DaPonte, who beat them, both who are committee chairmen and are in the good graces of leadership. Their votes may not change on marriage equality because of the nail-biting victories (though DaPonte was on the fence) others may swing once they see that even powerful incumbents can be vulnerable.
I’m sure they’re a-scared now. Interestingly, Plain didn’t talk much about how Pisaturo and the other hyped gay marriage candidates got substantial, late-in-the-game funding from what is essentially a one-man
evil–no it’s not, it’s for a progressive cause! Super-PAC, as reported by Scharfenberg:
Tim Gill, a reclusive technology magnate from the Centennial State, is the leading figure in a nationwide network of gay rights activists who have been funding state-level legislative races for years now in a bid to tip the balance on same-sex marriage and other gay rights issues. He recently poured $20,000 into a group called People for Rhode Island’s Future that is backing six pro-gay marriage state senate candidates.
Finally, Warwick Beacon reporter Kim Kalunian tweeted this from Pisaturo’s concession speech:”fear and hate…put into people’s minds on marriage equality” created a “backlash”.
Conclusion? While six gay marriage supporting Democrats received funds from a single-issue Super PAC, only Pisaturo’s race (and maybe DaSilva’s) was actually a referendum on gay marriage. Their close losses prove that powerful, connected pro-union but socially conservative politicians–who rely on “fear and hate”–should be on the lookout next time around. Got it?