Eight East Greenwich residents got enough signatures to run for delegate to the upcoming presidential political conventions — four Democrats for President Barack Obama and four Republicans, two for Sen. Ron Paul and one each for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
The Rhode Island presidential primary takes place Tuesday, April 24.
On the Republican side, Elizabeth Smith is running to be a Romney delegate, Pratik Chougule is running to be a Santorum delegate, and Erik Turgeon and Nathaniel Robertson are running to be Paul delegates.
Chougule said he cares about this election in particular, but also decided to run because of the topsy-turvy nature of the 2012 GOP presidential race. "Rhode Island's primary could have a significant role on the outcome," he said.
Chougule, 25, is a graduate of East Greenwich High School Class of 2004. He's studying law at Yale in New Haven. While many Republicans have expressed frustration with the Republican presidential choices, Chougule said he likes the field.
"I actually find all the candidates appealing," he said, citing Romney, Santorum and Gingrich. What tipped the scale toward Santorum, he said, was his record in the Senate.
"The issue I care most about ultimately is national security," said Chougule. "Santorum has mastered the mechanics of government, how power works in politics," he said.
Rhode Island gets 19 Republican delegates and 16 alternates, with the delegates split between the state's two congressional districts. Three delegates will be chosen by the state party.
On the Democratic side, Rhode Island has a total of 41 delegates and 2 alternates. Voters, however, decide only 22 delegates and no alternates. (The "unpledged" delegate slots go to elected Democratic officials, such as all four Rhode Island members of the U.S. Congressional delegation.)
All four EG residents running to be Obama delegates happen to share the last name "Weiner": Susan, Mark, Richard, and Zoe Weiner. Mark and Susan Weiner both ran and won as delegates for Hilary Clinton in 2008. Richard and Zoe Weiner are the couple's college-age children.
Mark Weiner is president of Financial Innovations, a political marketing firm based in Cranston, and a longtime Democratic Party fundraiser.
On Wednesday (March 7), the state Board of Elections will hold a lottery to determine the order of delegate candidates' names on the ballot. Residents have until Saturday, March 24, to register for the primary. According to Elaine Vespia at the EG Town Clerk's office, they will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 24 to accommodate potential voters.