Schmitt fails in R.I.

November 9, 2006

Recent Georgetown graduate Patrick Schmitt (SFS ’06) lost his bid for a seat in Rhode Island’s State Senate Tuesday.

Republican Dennis Algiere, a seven-term senator, defeated Schmitt by 15 percent of the vote, according to the Rhode Island Board of Elections’s preliminary results.

“I’m feeling good,” Schmitt said after his defeat. “We generated some excitement; we got some people to register to vote.”

Algiere had not been challenged since 1992, according to The Providence Journal. Schmitt described the previous lack of opposition as “always a bad thing for democracy.”

Algiere represents the 38th Senate District, encompassing the towns of Westerly and Charlestown. During the campaign, he pointed to his legacy of tax reforms, including tax credits and a property-tax cap, according to The Providence Journal.

Schmitt was an underdog throughout the campaign, despite garnering nominations from a union and Jim Langevin, one of Rhode Island’s two representatives in Congress. The Providence Phoenix described a possible Schmitt victory as the “biggest surprise” of the state’s elections. Despite his campaign’s small chance for success, Schmitt said, “I never fully expected to lose.”

While many incumbents have financial advantages over their challengers, Algiere and Schmitt had comparable budgets. Algiere raised $33,167.82, while Schmitt raised $29,797.84, according to The Providence Journal. Schmitt spent almost all the money on the campaign, including a commercial for cable television and four radio advertisements, including one in Italian.

Schmitt received many donations through his web site. “Being able to receive credit card donations was a huge advantage,” he said. He was also interviewed by the Democratic web site

While at Georgetown, Schmitt was the Executive Director of STAND. Schmitt said STAND gave him the experience he needed on the campaign trail.

Schmitt didn’t consider his young age of 22 to be a problem. “My relative youth served as an advantage. It created a buzz,” he said. Schmitt thought Algiere’s likeability and name recognition were his opponent’s biggest advantages.

There was an unexpected problem that came with Schmitt’s age, however. Going door-to-door, in a collared shirt and slacks, many people thought he was a missionary. “One person came to the door with a pistol,” he said.

Schmitt hasn’t decided whether to run again and said he has no plans for life after the campaign.

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