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RI GOP pushes it case -- to what effect?

WPRO broadcast a campaign commercial a short time ago that, pointing to the downside of longstanding Democratic dominance of the General Assembly, urged listeners to vote for Republican lawmakers. Governor Carcieri's campaign fund, according to a tagline, paid for the spot.

Yet not much can be expected to change in Rhode Island politics this Election Day, as I write in this week's Phoenix, mostly since the overall partisan balance is unlikely to change much.

Instead, Election Day 2008 signals the start of the march to a far more consequential statewide election season — complete with the high-stakes race to succeed two-term Governor Donald L. Carcieri — in 2010.

The GOP's best hope for making a mark may be with independent Edward O'Neill of Lincoln, who is trying to knock out Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano. Geography may help the challenger, as Steve Peoples wrote yesterday.

Because of recent redistricting, Lincoln makes up the largest block of Senate District 17, nearly 44 percent of its registered voters. Montalbano, 53, a Pawtucket native who now lives in North Providence, is the first to admit he’s not as popular in Lincoln as the district’s other two communities, Pawtucket (19 percent of registered voters) and North Providence (38 percent).

O’Neill, 62, also makes near-daily appearances on local talk radio stations and enjoys the unofficial endorsement of the state Republican Party, which has long battled the state’s Democratic leadership. O’Neill notes that Governor Carcieri attended a recent fundraiser.

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