PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Peter Kilmartin, a retired police captain and state lawmaker, was elected Rhode Island's next attorney general on Tuesday, defeating a former prosecutor and three other opponents.
Kilmartin, a Democrat who won a bruising three-way primary in September, will replace Attorney General Patrick Lynch, who could not run again because of term limits.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Kilmartin had 42.9 percent of the vote, compared to 29.2 percent for Republican Erik Wallin. Chris Little, of the Moderate Party, was third, with 14.2 percent.
The 48-year-old Kilmartin argued that his career in law enforcement made him most qualified for the job. He spent nearly 24 years with the Pawtucket police department before retiring in 2007 and has served 20 years in the General Assembly, where he previously held a leadership position.
He has proposed creating a special treatment court for military veterans accused of crimes and has called for better crime prevention measures and a more aggressive crackdown on gangs. He has also called for strengthening the office's public corruption unit.
"Everything I laid out, I believe, is very realistic," Kilmartin said after winning. "A lot of it is, frankly, working with other people of a like mind. It's combining resources and saving moneys to achieve mutual goals.
"I think everything is achievable, and the thing I think everyone needs to remember is we have four years to implement that," he added.
Wallin, a former prosecutor with the attorney general's office and with the Air Force, had stressed his legal experience and said he was the only candidate who had ever tried a felony criminal case. But Kilmartin, who received his law degree in 1998 from Roger Williams University, said he had more cumulative experience, even if he had not spent as much time as a full-time practicing lawyer as some of his other opponents.
After getting his law degree, he headed the Pawtucket police department's prosecution unit, where he prosecuted misdemeanor offenses and prepared felony investigations for prosecution by the attorney general's office.
Because there are no county district attorneys in the state, the attorney general's office prosecutes all felonies and certain misdemeanors and is responsible for representing the state in lawsuits.
Lynch is best known for handling the prosecution of a 2003 nightclub fire that killed 100 people and for his lawsuit against former lead paint companies. A jury verdict that could have cost manufacturers billions of dollars in cleanup costs was reversed on appeal in 2008.
Independents Keven McKenna and Robert Rainville were also on the ballot.