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US Reps. Langevin and Cicilline reelected; Biden wins state

November 4, 2020 GMT
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Republican Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, candidate for the Rhode Island House of Representatives, poses for a photograph on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Cranston, R.I. Fenton-Fung is running for the 15th legislative district seat held by Rhode Island's Democrat House speaker Nicholas Mattiello. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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Republican Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, candidate for the Rhode Island House of Representatives, poses for a photograph on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Cranston, R.I. Fenton-Fung is running for the 15th legislative district seat held by Rhode Island's Democrat House speaker Nicholas Mattiello. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Joe Biden handily won Rhode Island and fellow Democrats U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and U.S. Reps. David Cicilline and James Langevin were reelected Tuesday, but one of the state’s most powerful politicians was ousted in an election that set a new state record for voter turnout.

Republican Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung defeated Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello in a legislative district representing western Cranston that backed Donald Trump for president in 2016 and again this year.

Republicans are vastly outnumbered in the state Legislature, but Fenton-Fung’s victory seems destined to trigger a power struggle among House Democrats. Mattiello, an attorney and a conservative Democrat, has been House speaker since 2014 and has represented the district since 2007.

Fenton-Fung, a 39-year-old physical therapist and the wife of longtime Cranston Mayor Allan Fung — a popular two-time GOP gubernatorial candidate — had repeatedly called attention to scandals that have dogged Mattiello, including the money laundering trial of former campaign aide Jeffrey Britt.

In the presidential race, Biden beat Trump to win Rhode Island’s four electoral votes.

Rhode Islanders also were passing judgment on a ballot measure that would shorten the state’s official name. That measure was too early to call, with many votes still uncounted.

More than 480,000 voters cast ballots, besting the state’s previous all-time high of more than 475,000 in 2008, when Democrat Barack Obama was elected president, according to preliminary tallies from Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s office as polls closed.

The office said the final voter turnout count will be higher as provisional ballots, mail ballots placed in drop boxes on election day and ballots cast by voters still in line after polls close will be added to the overall count Wednesday.

Elections officials had cautioned that results for some races might not be knowable on election night because of expected tabulation delays.

But the outcome of the presidential race was in little doubt in Rhode Island, where Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by more than 15 percentage points in 2016. Rhode Island has backed a Republican for the White House only four times in the modern era — twice for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956, once for Richard Nixon in 1972 and once for Ronald Reagan in 1984.

The U.S. Senate race in Rhode Island pitted the Democrat Reed against Republican challenger Allen Waters, a perennial candidate who mounted earlier unsuccessful campaigns for the state Senate and U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.

Reed, first elected to the Senate in 1996, is a senior member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and a ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. Rhode Island’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, isn’t up for reelection until 2024.

In the U.S. House, Cicilline, one of Trump’s harshest critics in Congress, faced independents Frederick Wysocki and Jeffrey Lemire in his bid for a sixth term representing the 1st Congressional District.

The longtime U.S. Rep. Langevin, the first quadriplegic lawmaker to serve in Congress, defeated Republican former state lawmaker Robert Lancia in the 2nd Congressional District to earn his 11th term in January.

The sole statewide referendum on the ballot asked voters to shorten the state’s official name, “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” to drop the plantations reference. Supporters argue that it evokes the slavery era and offends at a time when the nation is wrestling with racial injustice.

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This story has been corrected to show that U.S. Rep. David Cicilline has won a sixth term in Congress, not a fifth.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.