Among the progressive Democrat incumbent women who did not get an endorsement from the Rhode Island Democratic Party is Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence). Ranglin-Vassell is a Jamaican immigrant, a woman of color and a teacher. She beat the incumbent, House Majority Leader John Desimone, in a close election in 2016. In the House she has fought for a $15 minimum wage and for control. Ranglin-Vassell failed to receive the endorsement because her District Committee seems to be made up of John Desimone holdovers.
In fact, one of the members of her District Committee is Anthony Desimone Jr, the former representative’s brother. The district committee nominated Providence College theology professor Holly Taylor Coolman, a self-identified “traditional Democrat.” When I attended Coolman’s campaign announcement in May, I was introduced to the candidate by Barth Bracy, executive director of Rhode Island Right to Life.
In a ProJo piece, Coolman differentiated herself from her opponent by saying she does not support the Reproductive Health Care Act. She signed a letter in support of the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which outlawed abortion in that country. That amendment was recently overturned by a two-to-one vote in that country.
When State Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence) described Coolman as “running on a specifically anti-choice platform” Coolman objected, telling Katherine Gregg and Patrick Anderson at the Providence Journal that Regunberg’s description of her campaign “was an ‘intentionally misleading’ characterization of her ‘nuanced pro-life’ stance,” yet Coolman is quoted here as saying that, “prolife” must mean much more than “anti-abortion”—but “it is also true that ‘pro-life’ cannot mean less than ‘anti-abortion.’”
Marcia Ranglin-Vassell is solidly pro-choice.
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“Clearly the endorsement process is totally broken,” said Ranglin-Vassell in a statement. “It is my hope that appropriate corrective actions are taken to bring credibility and high integrity to the process. However, in my race, I am the only candidate at this crucial moment who stands solidly with women and all Rhode Islanders to protect Roe v Wade. It is unfortunate that the party disregarded the will of the people, as well as its own precedent, in not endorsing the incumbent.”
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