PROVIDENCE − The outcome will not change the overwhelmingly Democratic control of the Rhode Island legislature, but three candidates in close races for House seats have requested a recount.
The deadline for requesting a recount was 4 p.m. Tuesday. By the time the deadline passed, recounts had been requested by:
⬤ Republican Rep. Justin Price of Richmond, who trailed Democratic challenger Megan Cotter by 29 votes in the 45.2% to 44.8% tally. Price was the only Rhode Island legislator who took part in the Jan. 6, 2021, Trump rally in Washington that evolved into a riot that Price blamed on “Antifa.”
⬤ Rep. Bernard Hawkins, the Democratic incumbent, who trails Republican challenger Brian J. Rea 50.5% to 49.3%, which puts them 56 votes apart in a House district that encompasses Glocester and Smithfield.
⬤ Republican Marie Hopkins, who fell 33 votes short of beating Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson, the Democratic incumbent, in their 50%-to-49.4% race in Warwick.
Vella-Wilkinson, a retired Navy officer endorsed by the National Rifle Association and Rhode Island Right to Life, was not a typical GOP target. But after fighting off a primary challenge from the left in the Democratic primary, she faced a tough challenge from Hopkins, a former psychiatric-care nurse and subsequent Community College of Rhode Island professor, who dotted the district with large campaign signs featuring a stethoscope and an American flag inside a heart shape.
Before the final votes were counted, the two thanked each other on Facebook for having run “a clean campaign.”
The day before the Nov. 8 election, Vella-Wilkinson posted this message on Facebook: “I was just paid a lovely visit by my opponent, who gave me a handwritten note and a Rocky Patel cigar as she wished me luck and thanked me for running a clean, respectful campaign. Right back at you, Marie!
“During the 12 years that I have been in municipal and state government, there have only been two races where I faced a ‘worthy opponent’ who ran a clean race. The first was Michael Penta in 2016 and the second was my current opponent, Marie!”
Hopkins responded: “I was not aware she had made this interaction public on FB the night before the election; but I am glad she did because it shows what sportsmanship is and how we should, as a community and as a state, and even as a nation, move forward together as TWO parties that accept ideological differences while appreciating our common ground.”
As of mid-day on Tuesday, recount requests had also come in from losing candidates for: Scituate School Committee (Lori Hart LaFauci), Little Compton Town Council (Maureen R. Rego), Cranston School Committee Ward 5 (Arthur P. Scavitti Sr.) and Warwick City Council Ward 1 (Patrick E. Maloney Jr.).
The Rhode Island Board of Elections plans to meet Friday to decide whether the requests qualify under the state law allowing the manual re-feeding of the ballots cast in the race into vote-counting machines when the candidate making the request trails by 2% or less.
An elections board spokesman anticipated the recount would begin and potentially end that same day.
As it stands, there will be only five Republicans in the 38-member Senate and nine in the 75-member House when the legislature starts the new two-year session in January. With the exception of one newly elected Independent in the House, all of the other 2023-24 legislators are Democrats.