The ‘invisible primary’ to be Rhode Island’s next governor has begun. Who’s out front?

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo will leave the stage in two years, and some would-be successors are already raising money.
Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo will leave the stage in two years, and some would-be successors are already raising money.Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

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Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I'm Edward Fitzpatrick and I'll never look at milkmen the same way now that I've seen The Swedes in The Umbrella Academy. Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to Edward.Fitzpatrick@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 19,934 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, after adding 196 new cases over the weekend. The most recent test-positive rate was 2 percent. The state announced one more death, bringing the total to 1,015. There were 93 people in the hospital, eight in intensive care, and two were on ventilators.


Voters won’t select Rhode Island’s next governor for another two years, but a quiet, crucial phase of that campaign is now under way.

“This is the invisible primary,” Providence College political science professor Joseph Cammarano said Monday. “Before any voters pay attention, it’s the jockeying not only for financial support, but also for the support of political elites, who make their decisions before regular voters.”

Based on the most recent round of campaign finance reports, Cammarano said he sees General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea emerging as a top tier of Democratic candidates, followed by Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee, while campaign finance reports reflect little activity on the Republican side.

Campaign finance reports due July 31 for the second quarter of 2020 show the following totals:

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner

Ending cash balance: $891,642

Individual contributions during quarter: $77,668

Political action committees during quarter: $2,500

Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea


Cash balance: $279,427

Individual contributions: $60,223

PACs: $4,500

Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza

Cash balance: $674,546

Individual contributions: $3,000

PACs: $250

Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee

Cash balance: $84,504

Individual contributions: $38,665

PACs: Zero

Cammarano noted the political world is now riveted on November’s presidential election. But raising money now for the 2022 gubernatorial race is not only a wise move — “it’s absolutely vital,” he said.

Strong fund-raising totals signal that a potential candidate should be taken seriously, helping to line up support and attract talent to campaign staffs, Cammarano said. And it can garner press attention, he said.

“This is a really important time that often determines the outcome more than the actual campaigning,” he said.

The most recent fundraising demonstrates that Magaziner and Gorbea are long-term planners, Cammarano said. “They understand this is a very long process that they have to be on top of long before anyone is paying attention,” he said.


⚓ Black Lives Matter Rhode Island plans to protest in Barrington at 1 p.m. today, calling for hate crime charges to be filed against a white man heard on video yelling racial slurs at his neighbor during a property line dispute. “We are going to make our voices heard,” said Mark Fisher, senior director of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island. “In no uncertain terms, we will respond to the proposed question: Is it OK to act on your bigotry with impunity?”

⚓ The Republican National Committee and the Rhode Island Republican Party on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a judge’s order that allows Rhode Islanders to use mail ballots without two witnesses or a notary during the pandemic. The GOP emergency application emphasizes that the Supreme Court halted a similar order in Alabama, arguing that the safeguards are needed to prevent voter fraud. But groups such as Common Cause Rhode Island and the Rhode Island ACLU blasted the GOP argument, saying no one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote.


Amanda Milkovits reports that a massive sculpture filled with plastic laundry detergent containers, netting, and rubber tires was destroyed by fire overnight Monday. The sculpture “Like a buoy, like a barrel,” created by artist Steven Siegel — had been on the plaza outside the Point225 corporate office building, part of Wexford Science & Technology Innovation Center, since last fall.

⚓ Amanda also reports that Rhode Island has now had more gun background checks in the last seven months than it has for entire years. The FBI reported more than 28,000 firearms checks in Rhode Island through its National Instant Criminal Background Check System through the end of July. The biggest months in Rhode Island were March, June, and July, respectively, driven by fears of COVID-19 and civil unrest. The biggest year had been 2016, which saw more than 27,000 firearms checks all year.

Necee Regis writes that Rhode Island is offering complimentary, environmentally-safe sunscreen at dispenser stations at all state beaches, provided by Raw Elements USA.



Politics: Victoria McGrane reports that Senator Edward J. Markey has clawed his way back from a double-digit deficit and is now locked in what is essentially a dead heat with Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III.

Coronavirus: Duke University researchers have developed a simple way to test how well masks stop people from spewing droplets that could spread the coronavirus, and their initial tests have raised questions about the effectiveness of neck fleeces and bandanas.

Sports: Chad Finn is wondering if Andrew Benintendi might be the second coming of Todd Benzinger instead of the next Mike Greenwell.

Food: Meredith Goldstein joins in a taste test of the new line of breakfast cereals released by Dunkin’ and Post. The cereal is made with Dunkin’ coffee, so, as the website says, “Now you can have your coffee and eat it, too!”


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ The Cranston City Council and the City Plan Commission will take part in a public site visit, starting at 5:30 p.m., at Mulligan’s Island, 1000 New London Ave., to review a controversial plan that includes a Costco wholesale club. The site walk is meant to hear from the applicant and for the public to get a greater understanding of the proposal. No votes will be taken other than calls to order and adjournment.


⚓ With all the bad news in the world these days, perhaps today’s best call is to go see Mr. Vinny the Bubble Guy at 6 p.m. at Pawtucket’s Slater Park. The free children’s event starts at 6 p.m. at Picnic Site 13.

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Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.