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It’s official: Morin wins House seat

February 25, 2014

WOONSOCKET – It’s official: Michael A. Morin is the new state representative for House District 49.
The Woonsocket firefighter won his stripes as an unopposed Democratic candidate in yesterday’s special election after finishing first in a three-way primary a month ago.
Morin was elected with just 233 votes. A total of 46 write-in ballots were cast against him for a variety of candidates.
“I’m just looking forward to getting going,” Morin said. “It seems like the primary was six months ago already.”
The special election puts Morin on track to finish out what’s left of the second half of Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt’s fourth term. She resigned mid-way through after she won the mayor’s race in November. She had been the District 49 representative since 2006 until stepping down.
Morin’s victory is expected to be certified by the state Board of Elections today, clearing the way for the city to regain a full complement of lawmakers in the House for the first time since the 2014 legislative session began, nearly two months ago.
“I’m pretty sure the House leadership will match me up with some seasoned legislators so that I can learn the ropes,” said Morin. “I’m anxious to get started.”
Morin, 48, of 180 Allen St., is a captain on the Woonsocket Fire Department and was, until a few days ago, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 732, the union that represents rank of file WFD members.
As promised, Morin stepped down from the presidency in anticipation of assuming the mantle of state lawmaker. Last weekend, union members voted to make Lt. Daryl Paux their new president.
Morin’s election means that not just one, but two of the three state representatives who serve the city, are now Woonsocket firefighters. State Rep. Stephen A. Casey (D-Dist. 50), is serving out the balance of his first term after defeating Jon D. Brien, son of City Council President Albert G. Brien, in 2012.
Some voters showed up at the polls not to support the only on-ballot candidate, but as as an act of protest, if not against Morin’s union ties, then the lack of opposition.
“I just can’t stomach the idea of having another union person in,” one woman said as she strode away from the Parkview Manor polling place. “I’m a write-in.”
Another man said he wrote-in the name of one of the alternative candidates who lost in the primary because he didn’t like the idea that Morin was a “shoo-in.”
Morin went into the primary with a unified front of support from state leading Democrats. Newly-minted Mayor Baldelli-Hunt endorsed him, even though Morin ran against her in his first run for state representative in 2012. They said they’ve buried the hatchet and vowed to work cooperatively for the common good of the city, still under the control of a state-appointed Budget Commission whose mission is to avert municipal insolvency.
House Speaker Gordon Fox and the Democratic State Committee also threw their support behind the political newcomer.
In a day of light turnout at the polls, Morin said he spent most of it “working the phones” to encourage likely voters to get out and cast a ballot. After the primary, many voters simply assumed he had already won the election and didn’t need any more help.
“I was greeting people and working the phones more than anything,” said Morin. “Many people leading up to this point thought I’d won already.”
Morin defeated former School Committeeman and prominent businessman Douglas T. Brown and Mark Chenot in the primary. Chenot, who had never run for office before, finished a distant third in the race, picking up just nine votes in all. Morin and Brown finished 377-344.
The District 49 plebiscite was open to voters who cast ballots at just four polling places in the city, Hamlet Middle School, Parkview Manor, Fairmont Manor and Parkview Manor.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo

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