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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The congressional campaign of Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos released a polling memo Monday showing her with a double-digit lead in the crowded Democratic primary to replace David Cicilline, even as many voters are still deciding who to support.
The survey of 400 likely primary voters in the 1st Congressional District found Matos at 22%, with state Rep. Aaron Regunberg her closest competition at 9%. Still, about twice as many voters were undecided — 43% — as were supporting the frontrunner.
The Matos poll found eight other Democrats clustered together in middle to low single-digits: state Sen. Sandra Cano at 6%; Providence City Councilor John Goncalves at 5%; state Rep. Marvin Abney at 4%; former White House official Gabe Amo and former state official Nick Autiello tied at 3%; and a three-way tie between Jamestown businessman Don Carlson, state Rep. Stephen Casey and state Sen. Ana Quezada at 2%. Former Navy officer Walter Berbrick received no support in the poll.
As campaigns often do, Matos’s team declined to release the entire survey, only sharing a polling memo that summarized the results. Brodnitz, who has worked on a number of campaigns in Rhode Island, said the poll was conducted June 5 to June 8 using phone calls and text messages, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
“These results are affirmation that Sabina Matos is the commanding frontrunner for Rhode Island’s 1st District special election,” Brexton Isaacs, Matos’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Even in a crowded field, this poll confirms that voters recognize Sabina’s record of leadership and experience on the issues that matter most to Rhode Island families.”
The decision to release the polling memo shows Matos’s team is looking to cement her status as the perceived leader in the low-profile 1st District primary, which has attracted 15 Democratic candidates but little attention from voters. The primary is Sept. 5.
The lieutenant governor is the only statewide elected official in the race, and has been endorsed by outside groups that could spend money on her behalf, including the Latino Victory Fund, PODER PAC and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC.
Regunberg has been seeking to establish himself as the progressive choice in the primary, getting to the left of his opponents on issues such as the recent debt-limit deal. On Monday his campaign announced the first union endorsement in the race, from the Communications Workers of America Local 400.
“When our members at Verizon were striking, we didn’t need to wonder whether Aaron would be with us – he was there at the picket line every day,” Don Trementozzi, the union’s president, said in a statement.
Other candidates were spending Monday highlighting their support from municipal leaders. Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien is announcing his endorsement in the race at 4 p.m. and is expected to back Cano, while Amo held a virtual news conference with the mayor of Highland Park, Illinois, who praised him for assisting her community after last year’s mass shooting when he was working for President Biden.
Asked about the Matos poll during the news conference, Amo downplayed the results, arguing voters are only starting to get to know him.
“I think this race has only just begun,” he said.
On Sunday, former White House chief of staff Ron Klain urged his 366,000 Twitter followers to support Amo, acknowledging he was “in a tough race for sure” but arguing, “He’d be a huge force for progress on Capitol Hill.”
Also Monday, Berbrick’s campaign said he had been endorsed by New Politics, a group which supports veterans and other national-security officials who espouse progressive policies.
Additionally, Allen Waters — who was the Republican nominee against Cicilline last year but is running in the Democratic primary this year — drew criticism after he announced he won’t participate in a candidate forum being held next month by the Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus because the group’s chair, the Rev. Dr. Donnie Anderson, is transgender.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.
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