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Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair McNamara responds to endorsement blunders



Rhode Island Democratic Party (RIDP) Chair Joe McNamara responded to a Rhode Island resident via email regarding a series of unfortunate endorsements, two of which were rescinded last week. In the first email, McNamara responded to a question about the endorsement of former Representative John Carnevale (District 13, Providence) who declined to run for his seat two years ago and is facing three felony counts of perjury and a misdemeanor charge of filing a false document with Providence. (See: here for more on Carnevale)

McNamara placed the blame for Carnevale’s endorsement on the House District 13 District Committee:

Thank you for your recent note about the endorsement of former Rep. Carnevale, in his bid for re-election to the House. That endorsement was not made by me or my office but actually by the voters of [Carnevale’s] district, who elected that Representative district committee and who decides who gets endorsed.

Going forward, it will be upon the voters of that district – and every district – to decide who wins or who loses. And we will make every effort to educate every registered voter we can to get out and vote and make their voices heard.

In the second email, which concerned the endorsements of MAGA sign wielding Trump supporter Michael Earnheart over incumbent Moira Walsh in House District 3 and the “unfit” and “unqualified” Greg Acciardo over Bridget Valverde in Senate District 35, (now rescinded), McNamara outlined some of the ways he’s working to make the Democratic Party’s endorsement policy more and open. McNamara acknowledged that the public does not truly understand the district committee process, (a process the Rhode Island Democratic Party  Women’s Caucus called “arcane”) and pledged to “make sure we do our part to make sure people understand this process so they can play a meaningful part.”

McNamara is also working with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea‘s office to make sure the list of the district committee members is available online “so people know who the players are that will be making these endorsements.”

Thanks for your email. As you may know, last week, I announced that the party was taking affirmative steps to address the issues surrounding certain endorsement. In particular, we rescinded the endorsements I made in House District 3 and Senate District 35. I did so, because I believe that, while I have the authority to make endorsements in these races, my default posture in the future is to avoid making any endorsements when a district committee is not organized/constituted and there is a primary. That is not to say that there may not be a compelling reason not to do so in the future, but I think that as a policy matter going forward that is how we will govern ourselves.

With respect to the endorsement in House District 13, I believe that the endorsement process as prescribed by state law is the best way to determine endorsements in these races. While the result may not always be the most palatable, allowing individuals in communities to determine who is best suited to represent a district is the best way to engage people at all levels in our democracy. I recognize that we have some work to do to make sure the public understands how to engage in that process and as Chair, I will make sure we do our part to make sure people understand this process so they can play a meaningful part. Moreover, we are going to be working with the [Secretary of State’s] office to make sure the list of the district committee members is available online, so people know who the players are that will be making these endorsements. By taking these steps, we believe we can further demystify this process and avoid situations like we had over the last week.

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