NARRAGANSETT/SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Incumbent Teresa Tanzi is showing a significant lead in the early results of the Democratic Primary for Rhode Island Representative in District 34, which contains parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown. As of Thursday at noon, Tanzi had received 662 votes (64.5 percent), compared to challenger Gina Giramma’s 365 votes (35.5 percent), though results are still unofficial as the state is still counting mail-in and emergency voting period ballots.
“I always run a positive campaign based on my record and it is gratifying to see the preliminary results show voters seem to approve of the work I have done,” said Tanzi in a statement Thursday. “I hope the mail ballots prove to be enough to send me back as their Representative for another two years.”
“I will work hard to push for a new, diverse leadership team at the helm of the House,” the incumbent representative, who is vying for a fifth term in the seat, added. “We need honest, engaged individuals who are responsive to the needs of all Rhode Islanders, and I will continue to advocate for greater transparency and accountability. We face tough times ahead and I am ready to help guide Rhode Island through these unprecedented challenges to better days.”
In a statement, Giramma, a local civics teacher, said much had changed since declaring her candidacy in June, and noted she was hoping to close the gap as mail-in votes were counted.
“I was extremely happy to successfully campaign this summer despite the COVID obstacles,” said Giramma. “I knocked on thousands of doors, talked with hundreds of people, had three fund raising events and organized and executed two mailings, all while keeping a positive attitude. I think it is fair to say two months ago not many people in South County knew who I was and what I stood for. That has changed.”
“As of now I am pleased with where I stand,” Giramma added. “I hope to gain more votes as the mail ballots are tabulated. Whatever the outcome I am beyond proud of my achievements.”
While most polls around the state closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, the Rhode Island Board of Elections (BOE) released a statement shortly after noting that results from the state's Primary Election would become available "over the next several days," with the Board stating some mail-in ballots and other votes from emergency voting periods spurred by the pandemic had yet to be counted.
"These are ballots cast at the Boards of Canvassers in City/Town Halls since the Emergency Voting period began on Aug. 19," the BOE's statement reads on emergency voting. "These results will be transmitted by local Boards of Canvassers to the Board of Elections on the morning of Sept. 9 due to how our tabulation systems had to be securely configured to produce these results separately."
"While the Board expects to count most mail ballots by Sept. 8, ballots placed in authorized drop boxes at City/Town Halls or in polling places must still be tabulated," the release continues. "These ballots are sealed in envelopes and held in secure and sealed containers by the local Board of Canvassers and will be delivered to the Board of Elections by noon on Sept. 9. Once these ballots have been processed, mail ballot results will be posted to our website. We expect this to occur by Sept. 10, depending on the volume of ballots received in drop boxes."
The state had a large number of mail-in and emergency ballots this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Official results as of Thursday showed 541 in-person votes and 121 emergency ballots for Tanzi, while Giramma has received 306 in-person votes and 59 emergency ballots. No mail-in ballots have yet to be counted, according to the state.
In South Kingstown, Tanzi has received 395 votes (68.9 percent) compared to Giramma’s 178 votes (31.1 percent). In Narragansett, 267 votes have been cast in Tanzi’s favor against Giramma’s 187 votes (41.2 percent).
In her statement, Giramma also pointed to a strong showing of progressive candidates across the state. Tanzi is a progressive Democrat.
“I also learned something new and that is to be careful what you wish for,” said Giramma. “10 years ago, the progressive movement was relatively new. I must say I was excited for some change. But that change has had negative consequences. The fracture of the Democratic party is reminiscent of the tea party and the Republicans. I still feel as though my representatives should represent the people and not personal agenda.”
“There is a process for a reason. You must work within the realm of the process to affect change, not fight it,” Giramma added. “That is what I plan on doing.”
There are no Republicans or Independents vying for the House District 34 seat in 2020, meaning the winner of the Democratic Primary will go unchallenged in November.
Results are unofficial as of Thursday at 12:20 p.m.