The one obvious thing about this election is that it’s playing out more like an insurgency than an incumbency election for Republicans.
Republican Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung on Tuesday defeated Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, one of Rhode Island’s most powerful politicians, in an election that set a new state record for voter turnout.
Republicans are vastly outnumbered in the state Legislature, but the victory is sure to trigger a power struggle among House Democrats. Mattiello, an attorney and a conservative Democrat, has been House speaker since 2014 and has represented the district since 2007.
Fenton-Fung, a physical therapist and the wife of longtime Cranston Mayor Allan Fung — a popular two-time GOP gubernatorial candidate — had aggressively targeted Mattiello in the 15th legislative district in Cranston.
The 39-year-old Fenton-Fung repeatedly called attention to scandals that have dogged Mattiello, most recently the money laundering trial of former campaign aide Jeffrey Britt.
This is how you win.