By DANIEL KITTREDGE Ken Hopkins and his supporters had been confident of a victory in the Republican mayoral primary. Neither they nor most observers, however, expected Tuesday's primary election night gathering at the St. Mary's Feast Society building
Ken Hopkins and his supporters had been confident of a victory in the Republican mayoral primary.
Neither they nor most observers, however, expected Tuesday’s primary election night gathering at the St. Mary’s Feast Society building in Knightsville to become a victory party.
The second-term citywide City Council member bested his GOP primary opponent, Council President Michael Farina, by a roughly 3-1 margin based on in-person voting results from 90 percent of the city’s precincts.
Even with emergency, provisional and mail ballot counts not yet added to the tally – and with a final results not anticipated until Wednesday or Thursday – it was enough for Farina to concede and Hopkins to address his supporters as the victor of what was frequently a contentious contest.
“Now, the H-train has arrived,” Hopkins told cheering supporters, reprising a frequent campaign slogan after receiving introductions from former mayor Michael Traficante and Mayor Allan Fung. “All aboard!”
He added: “Guys this is pretty special … Tonight’s results are a wonderful achievement for our campaign in our efforts to be Cranston’s next mayor. And it was all because of you.”
Fung, who endorsed Hopkins as his chosen successor, said during his remarks: “We never rested … And we’re shouting, shouting all throughout Cranston, every single ward, because it doesn’t stop tonight.”
A number of other Republican officials and candidates were in attendance for Hopkins’s event, including Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, who is seeking the House District 15 seat currently held by Speaker Nicholas Mattiello; Ward 5 Councilman Chris Paplauskas, who endorsed Hopkins’s bid; citywide council candidates Nicole Renzulli and Don Roach; Ward 2 council hopeful Zac Sailer; and Ward 6 council hopeful Matthew Reilly.
Farina and his supporters gathered at Miller’s Crossing off Oaklawn Avenue as the polls closed. The council president provided brief remarks to those on hand.
“It is what it is. I am retired from politics,” he told the Herald. “I am sad that all the hard work we did, my core team, my volunteers, I am sad we didn’t achieve what we set out to do.”
Hopkins, during his event, congratulated Farina for “being in the arena.”
“[Farina] has been a public servant, and it’s not an easy job these days,” he said. “He’s still our council president, and regardless of what was said or what transpired during this, he is still an honorable man, and I wish Mike and his family … all of the best in their future.”
With 27 of the city’s 30 precincts reporting, Hopkins led Farina 2,535 to 823 – a 75.5 to 24.5 percent split. The last three precincts had not reported as of the Herald’s press time.
It remains unclear who Hopkins will face in November’s general election.
As of press time, the mayoral Democratic primary between Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos and former Ward 4 councilwoman Maria Bucci was far too close to call, particularly with mail, emergency and provisional ballots outstanding.
Bucci had received 1,616 votes based on the 90-percent in-person count to Stycos’s 1,378 – a roughly 52-44 percent margin. Adam Carbone, the third candidate in the Democratic race, had tallied 126 votes at the Herald’s press time.
Bucci gathered with supporters Tuesday night at 39 West Restaurant, just down Phenix Avenue from Hopkins’s celebration.
“I feel good. We’ll see how it goes, you know. Hopefully it trends the same way it did today,” she said.
She added: “The response has been incredible. People are ready for change, something new.”
Stycos previously told the Herald he had planned to gather with supporters Tuesday night in a “safe setting.”
Other contests on the Cranston primary ballot were also far too close to definitively call late Tuesday night.
In the four-way Democratic contest for three citywide council spots on the November election ballot, Jessica Marino led the field with 2,086 votes, or 33.5 percent of what had been counted. She was followed by Paul Archetto (1,433 votes, 23 percent), Dylan Zelazo (1,359 votes, 21.9 percent) and Larry Warner (1,341 votes, 21.6 percent).
In House District 16, the candidates in the Democratic primary contest were separated by less than 20 votes. Brandon Potter, who is part of the progressive Rhode Island Political Cooperative, led incumbent Rep. Christopher Millea by a 235-217 margin, or 52-48 percent.
Elsewhere on the state legislative side, House District 41, Democrat Pamela Carosi was poised to defeat her primary challenger, Guiseppe Mattiello, with a nearly 3-1 margin based on the initial count. District 19 Rep. Joseph McNamara also led his opponent, Stuart Wilson, by a roughly 60-40 percent margin late Tuesday night.
In the Republican primary for the Second Congressional District, former District 16 representative Robert Lancia was well ahead of his opponent, Donald Frederick Robbio. His roughly 78-22 percent margin in Cranston (2,328-668 in votes) ran slightly ahead of his 73-27 (5,524-2,019) margin across the district.
On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin was poised to defeat challenger Dylan Conley. In Cranston, Langevin had received just more than 70 percent of the vote in the initial count.
The final results of the primary election, which has been months in the making and carried out amid circumstances unprecedented in recent memory, are not expected until later this week.
Tallies of in-person votes cast Tuesday at regular polling places streamed into the Board of Elections and onto its website after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
But a record number of mail ballots, and the ballots of those who voted early at city and town halls, were not set to be added to the overall tallies until Wednesday or later.
“Emergency voting results will be available tomorrow,” the Board of Elections wrote in a tweet Tuesday afternoon. “We expect mail ballot results to be available by Thursday, after all ballots placed in drop boxes are tabulated.”
Cranston Registrar Nick Lima said the final three outstanding precincts from the city were due to be reported before Tuesday night’s end.
Of the day’s turnout, he said: “Light turnout, less than we expected.”
Cranston has roughly 59,000 registered voters, he said, of whom 54,000 or 55,000 are considered active. In addition to those who voted at the polls on Tuesday, more than 900 cast ballots early at City Hall under expanded emergency voting provisions instituted due to the pandemic. Another roughly 4,500 requested mail ballots.
Lima said the mail ballot drop-boxes at the various polling places would be transported to the Board of Elections with a police escort on Wednesday. Additionally, the Board of Canvassers was set to meet Wednesday to review roughly 100 provisional ballots.
Asked how Tuesday’s primary unfolded, Lima said: “Everything went as smoothly as it can on election day.” He said the city entered the day with a full complement of 296 poll workers, and while roughly 10 percent called out, Cranston was still well prepared to operate its polling locations.
“Those are the people we’re going to need in November, and we’re going to possibly even need more,” he said.
Pam Schiff contributed to this report.