Redistricting can be a tool of inheritance, at least in one district.
General Assembly politics are a mystery to most Rhode Islanders. They don’t really understand why anybody wants the job, figuring that some people are just into that sort of thing. Yes, some people are really, really into it.
John G. Edwards, the Fourth, has been the Democrat representative from district 70 since 2008, having previously served on the Tiverton town council. When his son, John G. Edwards, the Fifth, came of age, he began pursuing the same path, with mixed success.
For some local flavor, when the Tiverton Board of Canvassers was reviewing the candidates for the last election and came across an unrelated Jay Edwards running for the council, a member of the board remarked that he was sure to win with a name like that. Sure enough, he did.
So, there was plenty of justification for knowing nods when in June 2020, Representative Dennis Canario, the Democrat from the neighboring district, announced he would not seek reelection later that year. Edwards the Fifth had bought a house in that district in spring 2019, and sure enough, he ran for the seat. He lost by an 80:20 a landslide in the primary to now-Representative Michelle McGaw; perhaps the power of the name fades quickly at the town’s border.
Knowing nods may be justified once again.
Currently, District 70 (turf of Edwards the Fifth) covers the northern half of Tiverton and a portion of Portsmouth right over the Sakonnet River Bridge. District 71, meanwhile, covers the southern half of Tiverton, all of Little Compton, and the portion of Portsmouth just south of District 70.
As the featured image of this post shows, the new districts proposed in the Rhode Island House’s latest plan would make a somewhat even trade of a portion of South Tiverton (but not all) for Edwards’s portion of Portsmouth. The red marker on that image indicates that the new border for district 70 would run right along the front of Edwards the Fifth’s property, making him eligible to inherit his father’s seat.