There are two documents filed at the Rhode Island Secretary of State‘s office regarding the endorsements for House District 7, a seat currently held by Daniel McKiernan. McKiernan is being challenged by Belen Florez in the Democratic Primary on Wednesday, September 12. The first document is from the House District 7 District Committee, received at the Secretary of State’s office on June 27 endorsing Belen Florez. The second document is from Democratic Party Chair Joseph McNamara listing Daniel McKiernan as the endorsed candidate, received at the Secretary of State’s office on June 29.

So what’s going on?

Belen Florez

“It is my understanding that the committee endorsement stands,” said Representative McKiernan, reached by phone. “I wasn’t even aware of anything at the state level. I hadn’t communicated at all with anyone from the state.”

“You never asked the State Chair for his endorsement?

“No,” said McKiernan.

As for the District Committee endorsement, McKiernan didn’t ask for that either. He knew that Joanne Gianni, who “controls” that committee, was not going to give him the endorsement.

Florez confirmed that she is the endorsed candidate for House District 7, but notes that she has not yet received VAN access. VAN is a computer system that tracks voters. Endorsed candidates get access for free, unendorsed candidates pay $1600 for access.

Rhode Island Democratic Party Executive Director Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye confirmed that Belen Florez is the endorsed candidate via text message, but provided no further details.

In a conversation with me earlier in the week Olasanoye told me that Representative Moira Walsh (Democrat, District 3, Providence) 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. Instead the Party endorsed Trump supporter Michael Earnheart, only to rescind that endorsement after public outcry.

Later it was discovered that Holly Taylor Coolman, who was endorsed by the House District 5 District Committee over incumbent Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, had not sought the Party’s endorsement.

[This story has been updated to reflect responses from Belen Florez and Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye.]

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