In the District with Dee | Senate 33: Glen Shibley Vs. Lou Raptakis
He’s back: Former State Senator Lou Raptakis wants his Senate seat back and after a successful primary against the party favored candidate David Gorman, Raptakis will now take on freshman Republican Senator Glen Shibley.
Shibley ran against Democrat Frank Hyde in 2010 after Lou Raptakis left his General Assembly seat to pursue the Secretary of State’s office.
Raptakis lost to incumbent Ralph Mollis in the Democratic Primary but Raptakis was determined that this was not the last time Rhode Island would hear from the Coventry pizza shop owner.
With Raptakis out, Shibley beat Democrat Hyde in the General Election by nearly ten points and became the new Senator from District 33.
Raptakis wasted no time in organizing his campaign to win back his senate seat. With the infrastructure of a state wide campaign at his fingertips Raptakis quickly began to come up with a strategy to win back his seat. Raptakis, an experienced politician, has a strong infrastructure and numerous resources to tap into which could be detrimental to Shibley.
The district which includes parts of Coventry and West Greenwich is relatively conservative and Shibley will be able to benefit from the makeup of his district although, Raptakis is not unpopular among conservatives. Raptakis was often outspoken against Senate leadership and as a result did not enjoy their support in the primary. He is also well known in his community owning the popular “Venus Pizza” in the area and he has not let himself leave the public eye during the past two years remaining a strong advocate for business and routinely testifying at the State House.
Raptakis was known for bringing legislative grant money to the district, a process that Republicans including Shibley, are opposed to. The legislative grants process grants money to local groups in the community but Republicans reject the way the money is granted because they say it allows leadership to reward supporters with tax payer dollars. Although Raptakis has said the system needs fixing, he has had no problem accepting grant money on behalf of groups in his community.
It is likely that the two men agree on most topics because both have relatively conservative records. The question in this race will not be where people stand on the issues but which of the men voters feel will better serve them in the General Assembly.
Shibley, the Assistant Director of the Municipal Police Academy, made some noise during his term in office when he said he thinks college public safety officers should be armed provided they undergo proper training. The Projo took him to task in PolitiFact check but Shibley came out unscathed with a mostly true when he said RI is the only state where state-supported colleges do not arm public safety officers.
Shibley was also a well-known opponent of illegal immigration and challenged the board of governor’s decision to approve in-state tuition for undocumented student.
Raptakis is known for his pro-business policies and his push for the state to eliminate “red-tape” when it comes to small businesses.
Raptakis, who served in the General Assembly House and Senate for a combined 17 years, promises to be tough competition for Shibley because of his well-organized campaign. Raptakis is a hard worker and if anyone remembers his campaign for Secretary of State he is a dedicated campaigner.
Both men are relatively popular in the area which makes the race more interesting. Raptakis will most likely benefit from the “D” next to his name as President Obama tops the Democratic ticket in Rhode Island but that does not rule Shibley out, as many voters in his District vote conservatively. This race is likely to come down to a get-out the vote effort by both men. Those living in the area should watch closely as every vote will count. Keep knocking on those doors gentlemen; may the best campaigner win.