PROVIDENCE, R.I.—General Treasurer Frank Caprio won his party's endorsement for governor and Providence Mayor David Cicilline was picked as its choice for the congressional seat being vacated by Patrick Kennedy as Rhode Island Democrats met Monday to choose a slate of candidates to back for the Sept. 14 primary.
The winner in each race will be listed first on the ballot. Caprio said he took his 88-to-32 win over Attorney General Patrick Lynch as a sign that his message of no new taxes and helping small business is resonating.
"This is the first indication, when people had to stand up," he said after making an acceptance speech in which he promised a win in September and in the Nov. 2 general election. "We want every vote from every Rhode Islander."
The governor's seat -- held for 16 years by Republicans and the only top office in the state not held by Democrats -- is the top prize for the state's Democrats this year.
Republican Gov. Don Carcieri is term-limited, and there's a crowded field of candidates to replace him, including former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, running as an independent, Moderate Party founder and entrepreneur Ken Block and Republicans John Robitaille, a former Carcieri aide, and former state Rep. Victor Moffitt. Republicans hold their convention Wednesday, with Robitaille expected to be endorsed, according to party Chairman Giovanni Cicione.
In the 1st Congressional District, four Democrats are running to succeed Kennedy, who has served eight terms. Some candidates took a few moments Monday to pay tribute to Kennedy, including U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, who represents the state's only other congressional district, and who recalled their early days serving together as the two youngest members of the General Assembly in the 1980s.
"There is not a harder fighter or a harder worker than Patrick in Congress," Langevin said. "He has made his mark. He has made a difference."
Kennedy did not attend the convention.
Cicilline won the endorsement for the seat over Bill Lynch, Patrick Lynch's brother, who was party chairman for 12 years before leaving to run for Congress. He said he spoke with every member of the state committee and executive board to ask for their support, and he received 46 votes to Lynch's 18 votes.
"This was the moment that traditional politics was set aside," Cicilline said after winning. "People want to be sure they're sending someone to Washington who can actually get things done."
In a speech before the endorsement, Bill Lynch told fellow Democrats he would rely on their individual support and that he believed he was best positioned to win in November.
Businessman Anthony Gemma got two votes in the race for the 1st Congressional District and state Rep. David Segal did not have enough support at the convention to be nominated for consideration.
Both Cicilline and Lynch have been the best-funded candidates in their races, according to quarterly filings made with state and federal elections officials in the spring.
In the race for attorney general, state Rep. Peter Kilmartin of Pawtucket, a lawyer and former police officer, secured the endorsement with 96 votes. Steve Archambault, a lawyer, town prosecutor for Lincoln and former police officer, got 16 votes, and former Providence City Solicitor Joe Fernandez got six.
In other races, the party endorsed incumbents Langevin, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis and Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts. Roberts faces a challenge from