The only thing more surprising than Republican and conservative Trump supporter Michael Earnheart entering the race against Representative Moira Walsh in House District 3 as a Democrat is that Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair Joseph McNamara and the Rhode Island Democratic Party has endorsed him.
Representative Walsh has made waves at the State House since her election two years ago. A single mom and former waitress, Walsh has been outspoken on issues such as minimum wage, reproductive rights and the War on Drugs, among others. She has angered House and Party leadership on several occasions. Earnheart, meanwhile, has been an outspoken fan of President Donald Trump,the policies of the Trump Administration, and an outspoken critic of Democrats.
In an endorsement document filed with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea‘s office and time stamped June 29, 3:13pm, Rhode Island Democratic Chair McNamara lists all those candidates who have received the State Party’s endorsement that were not necessarily endorsed by district committees. This form is filled out after district committees decline or fail to endorse.
Earnheart’s name has been added to McNamara’s list in block letters after the page was printed but before being submitted and time stamped. The document is time stamped on day after the deadline for making district committee endorsements, but under the Rhode Island State Law the Party has an additional 24 hours after the final date to submit its own endorsements if the district committees fail to endorse.
The endorsement is important, not just because the candidate might not get an “E” or a star next to their name, but because access to VAN, a computer system that allows candidates to track and contact voters, is provided for free to endorsed candidates but costs $1600 to those who are not endorsed.
Rhode Island Democratic Party Executive Director Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye told me that Walsh did not receive the Party’s endorsement because she never asked for it. “There may be good reasons for someone like Walsh, who is often at odds with House and Party leadership, to not seek the Party’s nomination,” said Olasanoye.
Earnheart did seek the Party’s nomination. According to Olasanoye, Earnheart claimed to be a lifelong Democrat who voted for Trump because he didn’t like Hillary Clinton. Earnheart, said Olasanoye, regrets that vote.
One month before talking to Olasanoye, Earnheart posted this:
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Olasanoye was careful to say that state law was followed in this and all other endorsements. Walsh did not establish a district committee, said the executive director. Walsh, in a tweet, said the Party rejected her state committee choices.
Wrong. The committee I submitted my first term was denied by the party. There is no committee (people are running this year).
— Moira Jayne Walsh (@RepMoira_Jayne) June 30, 2018
Here’s what the Rhode Island Democratic Party filed with the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office:
In addition to being a Trump supporter, Earnheart was responsible for an interesting social media presence. Most of this has been scrubbed clean. Earnheart deleted his Twitter account, but here are a few choice pieces that people managed to secure and send to me before that deletion:
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