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Editorial & Opinion

The RI Democratic Party endorsement process lacks transparency

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The Rhode Island Democratic Party suffers from a lack of democratic processes that risks permanently losing the trust of its members.


The last several years have borne witness to the disintegration of the Rhode Island Democratic Party’s legitimacy. Charges of corruption, a reluctance to adopt a secret ballot, and the departure of the Women’s Caucus are just a few of the markers of a Party in crisis. My experience with the local party endorsement process (or lack thereof) is further evidence of an incoherent Party structure more concerned with retaining power than upholding the principles it claims to stand for.

On the first day of this year’s candidate declaration period (June 22nd), I submitted my intent to run, filled out the Google Form to seek an endorsement on the Rhode Island Democratic Party’s website, emailed the interim director of the Party, and emailed members of my local party nominating committee. After two days with no response I sent a follow-up email. On Thursday afternoon—four days after I declared my candidacy—my incumbent opponent received the party’s nomination. I was never even given the opportunity to sit for an interview or present my platform (which, to an objective eye, is clearly more aligned with the stated principles of the Democratic Party than my opponent, who has yet to articulate any coherent platform or ideological commitments).

There is no transparency or clarity of process for receiving an official party endorsement in Rhode Island, and the effects are significant; the asterisk next to a candidate’s name carries a lot of weight, but many strong candidates committed to democratic principles are being systematically excluded because of feudal cronyism. The Rhode Island Democratic Party suffers from a lack of democratic processes that risks permanently losing the trust of its members. If the Party does not develop a clearer, more transparent system for endorsing candidates, they’ll be adding more fuel to a legitimacy crisis on the brink of explosion.

Jonathan Acosta serves on the Central Falls City Council (Ward 1) and is a Democratic candidate for State Senate District 16.