Primaries held for governor, Senate
Democratic challenger to Benson in N.H. among contests
Candidates throughout New England were engaged in primary battles yesterday.
In New Hampshire, voter turnout was sparse, with no major Republican challengers to the incumbents for governor, Congress, or US Senate.
But those who showed up had their minds made up about the gubernatorial race.
Chuck Russek, 41, a merchant seaman, said he voted for Governor Craig Benson at Londonderry High School. "I want to keep the guy in office that's against state income taxes," said Russek, an independent.
Benson's opponent in the primary was Charles Tarbell, a New Castle selectman. On the Democratic ticket, John Lynch, former chairman of the state university system board of trustees, faced state Representative Paul McEachern.
In Rhode Island, voters headed to the polls to choose candidates for local, state, and federal offices. There were more than 30 primaries in the General Assembly, all but three of them on the Democratic side of the ticket.
At least two General Assembly members faced challenges for the first time in 16 years. Senator Joseph Montalbano faced opposition from James Spooner, and House Representative Rene Menard was challenged by Thomas Scully and Charles Savoie.
The state's most electric mayoral primary was in Cranston, where incumbent Mayor Stephen Laffey faced a Republican challenge from real estate agent Garry Reilly.
In Providence, a new state senator was to be elected. Three blacks and a Hispanic were candidates for the Democratic nomination in Senate District 6, an unusual district newly born of a legal settlement that aims to maximize the clout of black voters.
Former state Representative Harold Metts, who is black, and a coalition of minority groups went to court to challenge the 2002 Senate redistricting plan, which they said unfairly diluted blacks' voting power. A settlement realigned 12 districts, seven of them in Providence.
With no general election candidates for the seat, the primary winner will become the senator, perhaps doubling minority representation in the Senate.
US Representatives Jim Langevin and Patrick Kennedy also faced challenges for the Democratic nominations for their districts. Kennedy was opposed by Providence storyteller Mark Binder. The winner of that contest will face Republican David Rogers. Langevin was being challenged by Charlestown resident John Hamilton. The winner of that race will face Republican Chuck Barton of East Greenwich.
In Vermont, the primary was expected to settle four statewide contests and a handful of legislative contests. In the Republican primary, Jack McMullen, Ben Mitchell, and Peter Moss were battling for US Senate; and Dennis Carver, Marianne Kennedy, and Karen Kerin were vying for attorney general. On the Democratic side, Craig Hill and Patrick Leahy squared off for US Senate; and Jan Backus and Cheryl Rivers were competing for the lieutenant governor's job.