Norton will challenge Coughlin for House District 60

Norton will challenge Coughlin for House District 60

PAWTUCKET - David Norton, the city resident who helped lead the 2015 campaign against a state-financed stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox in Providence, has announced that he’ll challenge State Rep. David Coughlin for his House District 60 seat.

Norton told The Breeze he'll run against Coughlin in the primary as "a progressive Democrat with Republican tendencies."

Coughlin, a former longtime school board member in Pawtucket, ran unopposed in the 2014 election and easily won the House seat previously occupied by Rep. Elaine Coderre.

"Today, I announce my candidacy for state representative of District 60 Pawtucket,” said Norton in a release. “I have many reasons for running for state representative. My primary reason is the way in which Pawtucket was insulted and ignored by Rhode Island House leadership during the PawSox fiasco."

Norton, who runs Organizing for Pawtucket, said Coughlin has a total of $26 in his campaign account and “has not held a fundraiser in years.” He claimed the incumbent doesn’t attend events in Pawtucket. He “has no presence and is not known by his own constituents” in District 60, he said.

“David Coughlin, essentially, was handed District 60’s seat by Rhode Island House leadership,” said Norton. He claimed Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, not Coughlin, “is in control” of the District 60 seat, “as is the case in so many other House districts in Rhode Island.”

Coughlin said Monday that he welcomes the chance to have a challenger or challengers, telling The Breeze that it “got a little boring the last time” he ran.

“Let’s get it on,” he said.

As for Norton’s accusations that he’s not known by his constituents and doesn’t attend local events, Coughlin said neither statement is worthy of being validated with a response. He said his vote total last time shows that Pawtucket residents know him and like him for what he stands for.

Coughlin said it’s true that he only had $26 in his account at the last reporting deadline, but doesn’t see why that’s relevant.

Coughlin said he commends Norton for lobbying to keep the PawSox in Pawtucket, but said it was Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien who led that charge and members of the local delegation supported him.

“The mayor took on that effort more than Norton’s crew did,” he said.

In running unopposed in 2014, Coughlin got “a favored position on the powerful House Judiciary Committee as a freshman legislator,” said Norton, “which is likely the reason that he votes as Speaker Mattiello tells him (as so many other Rhode Island legislators are forced to).”

Coughlin said he doesn’t know what Norton is talking about with his suggestion that Mattiello controls the House 60 seat. Sure, he’s supported many of Mattiello’s “initiatives” and has agreed with him on many ideas, but there’s no evidence that the speaker is controlling his vote in any way, he said.

In reality, said Coughlin, he filed his paperwork to run after Coderre announced she would be resigning. He said he even waited a few days to make sure Coderre was properly recognized for her work.

“If he (Norton) had an issue, he could have run a year ago,” he said.

Norton said in his release that he will “not be running against David Coughlin, because David Coughlin hasn’t got the resources, organization or independent leadership to run against me.

“The unfortunate reality is that I will be running against Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and the state political machine," he said. "Like so many other seats in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the speaker owns District 60's seat by way of doling out favors in the form of legislative grants and favored committee positions, as is the case in District 60.”

The only way Mattiello can keep the District 60 seat “is to pour money into my opponent's campaign” and “send an army of anti-McCoy Stadium door knockers or other House Leadership members to invade Pawtucket to win this race for” Coughlin.

“I like David Coughlin. He is a nice guy, as far as I know,” said Norton. “This isn't personal, this is political. Politics is a fight. I am a fighter. I want the people of District 60 to have an independent voice at the Rhode Island Statehouse. I want to be that voice."


I always think it is great to see a challenger in any race, but not when they sound like this. Good Luck Mr. Norton, but you already told everyone not to bother in your press release.

Sound like what? That he is willing to take on entrenched special interests? That he has a demonstrated history of community involvement? That he is willing to "call it as it is"? If you have a problem with any of that .. than you are correct .. A minion of Speakah Mattiello is just the man\woman that you need ....

Just what Pawtucket needs - more fighting and mean-spiritedness. Coughlin's work stands on its own. 8 years school committee; an attorney, a RESIDENT of Pawt, and a professional, even tempered person. We don't need intimidation and shocking unprofessional manners - what an embarrassment. Mr. Mayor released this guy and now he can't put him back in the box. Perhaps Pawtucket deserves him. He picked the seat he has a slim chance of winning. Remember, those you organize have to also vote.

I was only commenting on what Dani called out, his lack of tact. Also, for someone who is running for Dist 60 (not other districts in the state), I would expect to hear more about what he wants to do, not what he doesn't like about politics (in other districts in the state).

If the Mayor of Pawt expects any help from the state and the RI legislature how does a sitting Democratic Mayor endorse or even nod at someone challenging a sittng Democratic legislator? One who recently demonstrated by holding up a sign that said, "Vote Mattiello Out Of Office In 2016". How about the others? Nesselbush, etc. - or does he intend to run as an Independent, because surely, unless he intends to break the generational Dem party in Pawt., he'll be out in the cold...holding up his little signs on street corners.