Newport casino opponents were quick to attribute the defeat of incumbent state RepPeter Martin Tuesday to his support for the casino at Newport Grand, even though Martin wasn't a casino supporter. Legislative observers point to more typical reason for Martin’s defeat, including an uninspired campaign in which he decided against knocking doors, raised little money and got called out in the local media for refusing to debate his rival, the energetic and well-liked Clean Water Action activist Lauren Carson.
Martin’s House District rejected the casino proposal in 2012 by a much larger tally than the razor-thin margin city-wide. But with both Martin and Carson both opposed to the casino, the margin of victory came down to election fundamentals: boots on the ground. This is best indicated by the famous 5th Ward in Newport, which voted overwhelmingly against the casino in 2012, but backed Martin on Tuesday on a margin of 55 percent. Ultimately, Carson ran a much better campaign, taking the four other precincts, and she won with 53 percent of the vote.
Speculation that anti-casino fervor toppled Martin or will impact Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed may be more heat than light. (Paiva Weed's district includes the more pro-casino parts of Newport, along with Jamestown.) Meanwhile, her GOP rival, Mike Smith, has a fundraiser Tuesday, from 7-9 pm, at the Fifth Element in Newport. His invitation cites in part what he calls "Paiva Weed's casino scheme."
RI NPR. September 12, 2014.