- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Three incumbent Democratic lawmakers lost their primaries in a year that’s unlikely to bring much overall change to the makeup of Rhode Island’s General Assembly.

Rep. Maria Cimini of Providence was defeated by attorney Daniel McKiernan, who got 54 percent of the vote. He was the only challenger to an incumbent to have the backing of Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, who said earlier this week he hadn’t felt Cimini was “on the team” and that McKiernan was a better fit for the district.

“He’s going to help me get the job done,” Mattiello said.

Cimini, who served two terms, abstained in the March vote for speaker but supported the leadership’s budget in June.

She said she worries her defeat will have ripple effects in the House.

“It would be devastating to me if my loss resulted in legislative colleagues feeling like they can’t offer up a different opinion or disagree for fear of being silenced by people in power,” she said.

Cimini said she’s not planning to run again for the seat in two years but wouldn’t be surprised if her name were “on a ballot” in the future.

In Newport, Rep. Peter Martin lost to first-time candidate Lauren Carson, who got 53 percent of the vote. Some were upset Martin had supported elimination of a separate local ballot question on adding casino games at Newport Grand, though the question will still have to be approved both locally and statewide.

Martin, who has worked to oppose the addition of table games, said members of the anti-casino group misunderstood the legislature’s move to get rid of the local question and turned on him.

“After all of my wonderful accomplishments in six years at the General Assembly, if they want to oust me on a misunderstanding of one bill, I accept it and I’m moving on,” he said Friday. “I stand proud on my record.”

Carson, who also opposes the casino expansion, is unchallenged in the general election.

In South Kingstown, Rep. Spencer Dickinson - a vocal opponent of repaying the bonds that financed the failed 38 Studios deal - fell short against Councilwoman Kathleen Fogarty. Dickinson had been up by a handful of votes before the counting of mail ballots, but Fogarty ultimately beat him by 32 votes out of 1,306 cast.

Fogarty moves on to face Republican Lacey McGreevy, a trade show consultant who has competed in numerous beauty pageants, including the national “Perfect Miss” competition in 2011. She represented Massachusetts.

About half of House and Senate incumbents seeking re-election on Nov. 4 are running unopposed, and the number of races expected to be competitive is modest.

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