Speakman handily defeats Ruggiero in District 68 primary

Posted 2/5/19

Riding a wave of progressive momentum, Warren resident June Speakman handily defeated Richard Ruggiero in Tuesday’s District 68 Democratic primary, earning 652 votes to Mr. Ruggiero’s 238.

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Speakman handily defeats Ruggiero in District 68 primary


Riding a wave of progressive momentum, Warren resident June Speakman handily defeated Richard Ruggiero in Tuesday’s District 68 Democratic primary, earning 652 votes to Mr. Ruggiero’s 238. The result came in a House of Representatives district made up of 70 percent Bristol residents, and marked the first win there for a Warren resident. In total, Ms. Speakman carried 73 percent of the vote.

Ms. Speakman, who championed former District 68 representative-elect Laufton Ascencao in last year’s General Election, decided to run for the House seat after failing in her bid to win a Warren Town Council seat last November, and after her former colleague was caught lying to her and other colleagues on the Warren Democratic Town Committee last December.

Following Mr. Ascencao’s decision to cede the seat, Ms. Speakman picked up the progressive mantle he had carried to a large victory last November, promising throughout her well-organized campaign this past month to fight for the issues she believes most Rhode Islanders stand for — sensible gun control, environmental causes and reproductive rights and affordable housing, among others. She will face Independents Kenneth Marshall of Bristol and James McCanna of Warren, as well as Warren Libertarian William Hunt Jr. of Warren, in the March 5 special election.

“I am deeply gratified by the results, and humbled,” she said following her victory. “And I am grateful for the support of the voters from Bristol and Warren.”

Ms. Speakman was aided by a large group of volunteers, who passed out literature, knocked on doors, spoke to everyone they could find and stumped for her at every chance. Ms. Speakman said their support was crucial, and she particularly thanked her deputy campaign manager Jill Sypole of Warren and campaign manager Erich Haslehurst.

“I am so grateful for all the help and support," she said. Though she said she is not taking anything for granted, Ms. Speakman said she will work just as hard to achieve a similar result in March’s special election.

“I commit to (the residents of District 68) that I will work really hard to win the special election and go to the General Assembly to represent their values.”

In Bristol, Mr. Ruggiero said he was not surprised that Ms. Speakman won the primary. He said he worries for the future of the state in the face of a growing progressive movement.

“Honestly, I kind of thought that the progressive movement had taken over in Bristol,” said Mr. Ruggiero, who ran on a platform made up of what he described as more traditional values. “I’m not surprised that I lost, but I’m just surprised that Bristol and Warren have changed so drastically in such a short time.”

“It worries me and that was the reason I ran,” he said. “But there’s nothing I can do about it. The voters have spoken.”

Speakman statement
Following her victory, Ms. Speakman's campaign issued the following statement:

“Thank you to the voters of Bristol and Warren for believing in our campaign and for choosing me to be your Democratic candidate in the March 5 Special Election. I also want to thank all the volunteers who turned out to talk to voters about our vision for this district and for Rhode Island.

"We began this journey knowing that the values that Bristol and Warren voters care about need to be upheld. We deserve a government that is transparent and accountable to the people it serves. We know that we need to do more to address climate change and preserve the shoreline and waterways that make our communities special. And we believe that all working families deserve to live in a safe and affordable home. And we want to ensure that our senior citizens are able to age in place with dignity.”

“The voters have shown that people matter and that every voice and every vote are important. Now more than ever we must encourage people to get involved, to be a part of their community and to do their part to help make a difference. I'm looking forward to carrying this energy forward into the March 5 Special Election and getting back out into our community to continue the conversation about our future.”

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