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Ehrhardt Believes Craven Will ‘Be a Good Representative’

Robert Craven beat incumbent Laurence Ehrhardt for a seat in the General Assembly.

This January will mark the first time since 2005 that Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt will not be up at State House as a local representative after he was defeating by Democrat Robert “Bob” Craven in last week’s general election. Ehrhardt, who won his last election in 2010 against Democrat Richard Welch by almost 1,300 votes fell to Craven by more than 600 this time around.

“I was very surprised with the results,” said Ehrhardt. ”I had no feeling at all that it would go this way.”

Both men had very different paths to election night this year that both made headlines over this summer. Ehrhardt faced an unexpected primary against Republican Sharon Gamba, who claimed that Ehrhardt was initially going to step down and she was picked to be his successor. Throughout the primary race, Gamba and Ehrhardt battled over the details of their previous correspondence: Gamba said she was being mentored by the state representative for three months, starting in April 2012. On her website, Gamba displays copies of emails between herself and Rep. Ehrhardt, reportedly showing correspondence between the two. Ehrhradt purports that the correspondence was not that extensive and denied mentoring the newcomer.

The contentious primary came to a close with Ehrhardt narrowly beating Gamba by just 16 votes. Looking back, Ehrhardt believes that the primary race was a big factor in his election loss. Craven also believes that many Gamba supporters who voted for her in the primary voted for him in the general election over Ehrhardt.

“The primary race turned very negative in terms of my opponent attacking me on a number of dimensions,” said Ehrhardt.

Craven also went into the matchup with a disadvantage. Craven, a lawyer and Charlestown Town Solicitor, was selected at the 11th hour to be the Democratic challenger. After nomination papers were submitted, Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair Ed Pacheco had 24 hours to find a Democratic nominee to run for House District 32.

Despite the results, Ehrhardt is confident that Craven, a former North Kingstown Town Councilor, will do well up at the State House. Ehrhardt says he will be meeting with Craven this week to pass on materials and give the incoming freshman representative some tips and pointers.

According to Craven, he received a call from Pacheco as he was driving over the Newport Bridge, asking him if he had ever thought of running for General Assembly. Craven said no but told Pacheco he would consider it and get back to him in a few days.

“When I told him that, [Pacheco] said, ‘No, I’m going to need an answer in’ and then I heard him pause and assumed he was looking at his watch and then said ‘48 minutes,’” said Craven.

Many North Kingstowners may be familiar with Craven’s name. From 1994 to 1996, he served on the North Kingstown Town Council. In recent years, he’s relocated his law firm into town. Local parents may recognize his name as well as he has coached his sons in soccer and baseball throughout the years.

“I’ve lived in North Kingstown for 39 years and I’ve been active in all kinds of things since I was a senior in high school,” said Craven.

As for his victory, Craven believes that not being the incumbent gave him a peculiar advantage. While going door to door, Craven said a large portion of residents said they would vote for him based solely on the fact that he wasn’t currently in office.

“All incumbents had to go was the message I was getting from residents,” said Craven. “They were sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Next year, Craven will start his newest venture as a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly. As for his predecessor, he calls Ehrhardt a “class act.”

Both men said they will be meeting in the coming weeks to go over items before the legislative session before Ehrhardt goes into what he calls a “voter-induced sabbatical.” Though he’s disappointed that he won’t be in for a fifth term next year, his conversations with Craven have made him confident in freshman legislator.

“I think he’s going to be a good representative,” said Ehrhardt. 

ru4real November 16, 2012 at 12:09 AM
I am not a supporter of Ehrhardt. Nor am I a supporter of Gamba. His attitude has always been too snobby for me. Her autobody self-serving connections stunk to high heaven along with her connections to the right wing nutballs in the NKGOP. Pete trashed people who supported him because his hatred of Ehrhardt overruled common sense. I was glad to see that Craven won because it throws to the curb the Republican bs. The NKGOP would be well served if they had the nuts to clean up their own house but they (like you) would rather point fingers and look for scapegoats. The Dems already blew up their house and it will be a longtime before they get healthy. The politics of both parties in NK are rancid. Enjoy your political stupor and vitriol while people silently leave the town and the state because of the pollution here. NK and RI are so over, yesterday's old news. The election of 2012 is another asterisk on the putrid history of RI politics. The people of this town and state deserve exactly what they voted for---OBLIVION!
Politics Sheriff of NK November 16, 2012 at 12:40 AM
@RU4Real, good (if cynical) observations about both parties in NK not having it together. But as far as I know, the autobody bill was used by NKGOP nutballs as you call them, to trash Gamba when in FACT her auto business is not a beneficiary as they work for the auto insurers. Her husband Dennis came on here and eloquently explained all that, but the damage was already done. The NKGOP nutballs got on here and said the exact opposite and in fact said she had testified (she didnt) for the bill. So lets set the record straight, Ehrhardt's faction of the NKGOP did what they do best, lied to achieve a political end. Your observation of Ehrhardt's snob attitude probably he is just hiding low self esteem and a hollow dishonest person. Good riddance. I do hope BOTH parties can get rid of the deadwood like this and come to a healthier place... but this is RI. On the plus side, Craven is a quality outcome for this one position in RI politics. We need to do better with these parties though, too many smart honest people dont approach them to get involved, and help the community know who is truly good for NK. So the voters, working in the dark, re-elect Dolan/Hueston./ Go figure.
Govstench November 16, 2012 at 02:25 AM
The actions of Mr. Ehrhardt was his alone. He was not acting for the party but for himself. Party chairs try to head off primaries as they are only devisive to the party and give assistance to the opposition. This has been proven true in many races. Regarding the TC and SC he appears to have cobbled together teams on both groups that will at least function enough to keep town matters out of the courts, preventing the waste of taxpayers funds on lawyer bills. For only being in this position for one year, he has done a remarkable job. Perhaps it a case of sour grapes for you Mr. Dawg.
Politics Sheriff of NK November 16, 2012 at 04:14 AM
just to be clear, gov is speaking of NKGOP chair McGuire, not Ehrhardt (ho was just voted out).
Govstench November 16, 2012 at 12:29 PM
@Politics Sheriff of NK - in regards to attracting smart and honest people, we need to get rid of the master lever option on the ballot. The voters need to vote for the person and not for the party. This has been what has been holding the Democrats in power in this state for decades. You might find some really interesting results.

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