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Governor Gina Raimondo for commerce secretary? Honestly, who knows?

The former venture capitalist and state treasurer is said to be a contender for the job in President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet, but rumors about her heading to Washington, D.C., have been wrong before

Providence, RI - 12/3/2020  Rhode Island  Governor Gina  M. Raimondo  (cq) at a afternoon press conference  at the Vets Memorial Auditorium, in Providence. Raimondo, said that she will not be Biden's Health and Human Services nominee.  (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
Providence, RI - 12/3/2020 Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo (cq) at a afternoon press conference at the Vets Memorial Auditorium, in Providence. Raimondo, said that she will not be Biden's Health and Human Services nominee. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I definitely do not miss going clubbing on New Year’s Eve. And by clubbing, I mean standing awkwardly in a corner with a rum and coke in hand listening to 50 Cent. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 86,789 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after adding 1,095 new cases. The overall daily test-positive rate was 9.4 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 28.6 percent. The state announced 18 more deaths, bringing the total to 1,760. There were 423 people in the hospital, and 12,869 residents had received the first dose of the vaccine.

Let’s start by being fully transparent: For all the gossip making its way around Rhode Island politics this week about whether Governor Gina Raimondo is set to join the President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, the truth is that most of the folks who claim to be Gina whisperers are mostly just reading Politico and Twitter. 


What we do know is that Raimondo was interviewed for vice president and has been floated for at least two cabinet-level positions (secretary of health and human services and secretary of transportation) over the last month. Now, her name has emerged as a potential finalist for commerce secretary, which is an attractive job for her skillset.

So should Rhode Island be preparing for Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee to take the helm at some point in 2021? Here are some factors to consider.

  • Every news outlet in Rhode Island – including the Globe – has been asking Raimondo for weeks if she wants to be the next commerce secretary, and she can pretty much deliver her non-answer about how much she’s focused on being governor in her sleep. On Dec. 3, she flat-out told reporters “My focus is right here in Rhode Island, as I have said. I am working 24/7 to keep Rhode Islanders safe and keeping our economy moving.” She’s mostly off this week, but the fact that she isn’t holding her weekly COVID-19 press conference is likely going to add fuel to the flame that she must be in Wilmington hanging with her future boss.
  • There has been a lot of coverage suggesting that former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman is a frontrunner to lead commerce, especially since Biden hasn’t yet named any prominent Republicans to his cabinet. Raimondo and Whitman have a little bit of a history together, and not in good way. In 2016, Raimondo said she had a “tense” conversation with Whitman regarding a lawsuit the state filed against HP over computer upgrades at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • One thing working in Raimondo’s favor: She has always been adored by the business community (the larger the business, the better), and she’ll likely win a glowing review from the Wall Street Journal editorial board if Biden picks her. One thing working against her: Team Biden owes her nothing. She wasn’t an early supporter (remember, she’s the one who backed Michael Bloomberg for president) and if any resistance emerges (as it already has), it may be easier to go with a safer choice.
  • It’s worth noting that the quasi-betting market loves Raimondo for commerce secretary. PredictIt, which allows you to wager small amount on everything from Biden’s cabinet picks to the New York City mayoral race, currently lists her as the favorite.
  • Last thought: In an interview Tuesday night, McKee told me that he has had conversations with other lieutenant governors around the country who became governors about how transitions can work, but he’s not holding his breath at this point. “I think that there are real conversations going on,” McKee said. “Does it actually happen? That’s something that only the governor knows.”


⚓ Rhode Island health officials on Tuesday outlined who will get the COVID-19 vaccine over the next two months. Read more.


⚓ Brown University School of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha has become one of the most vocal critics of the slow vaccine rollout nationally. Read more.

⚓ Following Dr. Jha’s criticism, President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday promised that 100 million vaccines will be administered within his first 100 days in office. Read more.

⚓ Providence College has two players on Team USA in the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. The team scored a 7-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals. Read more.


⚓ Strange: You learn something new every day, and if you read this story, you’ll learn that goats apparently really love to eat Christmas trees. Read more.

⚓ Health: A 41-year-old congressman-elect in Louisiana has died from COVID-19. Read more.

⚓ Food: My colleague Devra First explains how TikTok helped define the year in food. Read more.

⚓ Fun: Here are 10 ways to ring in the new year... from home. Read more.


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.

⚓ BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers, due to the holiday, we’re moving birthday wishes up to Thursday. If you want to recognize a friend or family member, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ This might sound rather late, but the Warwick Board of Canvassers will meet at 3 p.m. to certify the results of the November election.


⚓ The Westerly School Committee is meeting at 5 p.m. to discuss the job performance of its labor negotiation attorneys.

⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here

Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.