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Two RIC alumni are seeking Rhode Island GOP leadership positions

Raymond Baccari


Photo by Raymond Baccari

The Rhode Island Republican Party’s convention to elect new leadership is set for next month on March 25. Two candidates who have publicly announced their candidacy for leadership positions happen to be alumni of Rhode Island College.

The first of the two candidates is Joe Powers, who was the Republican nominee in 2022 for Rhode Island State Senate District 26.

“I am excited to announce my candidacy for the Chair of the @RhodeIslandGOP at the upcoming convention in March,” Powers wrote in a tweet Saturday. “I look forward to speaking as many of the Party’s members and work towards gaining their support!”

In his election last year, Powers came up short vs Sen. Frank Lombardi (D-Dist. 26), earning 42.2% of the votes. Powers is currently a realtor, and before that served in the United States Coast Guard for four years. He then attended RIC, studying communications and journalism.

Currently, Powers is the only candidate who has publicly-announced he’s running for chairman of the Rhode Island GOP. Earlier this month, 2022 GOP nominee for Rhode Island Attorney General, Charles Calenda, announced a run, but withdrew shortly after, citing family and work commitments that wouldn’t allow him to dedicate time to being party chair.

Another person who may end up running is former Rhode Island GOP Chairman Giovanni Cicione. Cicione was also a Republican National Committee member at one point and was part of the leadership team in Rhode Island for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) 2016 presidential campaign.

The current party chair, Chairwoman Sue Cienki, said earlier this month she will not seek reelection. Cienki is instead running for the party’s open national committeewoman position.

The other candidate running for a leadership position is Niyoka Powell, who is an alumna of RIC. Powell is running for the party’s second vice chair position.

“I am happy to announce that I am running for 2nd Chair @RhodeIslandGOP this March. Moving forward, never backward with our community in mind,” She wrote in a tweet Saturday.

Powell recently ran for Rhode Island State Senate District 1 as an independent candidate. She earned 18.6% of the vote versus Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1).

The next leadership for the party will likely have a number of offices on their radar for 2024. In the 2024 election, all of Rhode Island’s General Assembly members are up for reelection along with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins.


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