Connect with us

Politics & Elections

Rhode Island Democratic Party rescinds endorsements of Earnheart and Acciardo



The Rhode Island Democratic Party today rescinded the endorsements of Michael Earnheart, running for House District 3 in Providence and Greg Acciardo, running for Senate District 35, North Kingstown and Narragansett. Two women, House District 3 incumbent Moira Walsh and Bridget Valverde, vice president of the Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus were passed over for nomination.

These rescissions came after days of outrage when it was learned that Earnheart was a Trump supporter with a colorful social media history and Acciardo, a former State Senator from Johnston, had a lengthy criminal record. The news of the endorsements went national, causing embarrassment for the Rhode Island Democratic party.

“Today, in the best interests of the Rhode Island Democratic Party, I submitted a letter to the Rhode Island Secretary of State rescinding the endorsements previously made in House District 3 and Senate District 35,” said Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair Joseph McNamara. “As a policy matter, the people in each district should decide who gets chosen when no district committee exists, because they’re the people closest to the candidates and have more information about those candidates than the state party could ever have. In practice, what we’ve learned over the last few days only reinforces my belief that this is the right policy going forward.

“Over the last four years as chair, I’ve worked really hard to make sure our Party is more open and transparent and is a place where all Democrats can feel they can have a voice and make a difference,” continued McNamara. “I regret that these endorsements are inconsistent with that work and believe the actions we have taken today brings us closer to where we aspire to be.”

Walsh received support from United States Representative David Cicilline and actress Debra Messing, among many others.

Can you help Uprise RI?

Funding for our reporting relies on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence allows us to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone. But your support is essential to keeping Steve and Will on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.

Become a Patron!
Opens in a new tab - you won't lose you place


Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair endorses Trump supporter over incumbent Moira Walsh

Bridget Valverde – My opponent is “unfit to represent our district, and completely unworthy of our party’s endorsement”

The Rhode Island Chapter of the National Organization for Women calls for the Rhode Island Democratic Party to formally renounce party endorsements

Rhode Island Democratic Party Women’s Caucus and LGBTQ Caucus address endorsement isssue

Representative Joe Almeida – Shame on the Democratic Party

Shanna Wells – RI Democratic Party should stop stifling the voices of women and people of color!

Though some have questioned the legality of rescinding the nominations after the final date, Rhode Island Secretary of State outside legal counsel, former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras of Greenberg Traurig LLC, released the following statement:

RIGL 17-14-15 addresses withdrawal of candidacy and allows candidates to withdraw “within the time prescribed by Section 17-14-13 for filing objections to nomination papers.”  In addition to this, there is case law (Gomes v Rhode Island Bd of Elections, 393 A.2d 1088 (R.I. 1978)), where an endorsed candidate withdrew his candidacy and the City Ward Committee tried to endorse another candidate. The Rhode Island Supreme Court explained that the statute provided a specific time limit for the endorsement: “Where the language of a statute is free of ambiguity and conveys a definite and sensible meaning that does not contradict an evident legislative purpose, there is nothing to construe.” The result in Gomes was that the remaining candidates appeared on the ballot without a party endorsement.

Rhode Island election laws do not have any explicit provision addressing a rescission of a party endorsement.Accordingly, we are left to interpret what the legislature intended. If an endorsed candidate can withdraw his or her candidacy up to a certain time, then certainly, in the absence of contrary language, the state committee or local committee may withdraw its endorsement within the same time period.

In the letter, McNamara requested that the Secretary of State’s office reissue signature papers to reflect that no endorsements shall be made in either race. This begs the question as to whether signatures collected on the old papers are valid.

UpriseRI is entirely supported by donations and advertising. Every little bit helps:

Become a Patron!

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.