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How many times have there been a gubernatorial vacancy in Rhode Island?

Six lieutenant governors have been elevated to Governor of Rhode Island since the 1850s. Here’s a look at who they are

Rhode Island was previously governed by royal charter, but its 1842 constitution included a succession plan.
Rhode Island was previously governed by royal charter, but its 1842 constitution included a succession plan.Susan E. Bouchard/Associated Press

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Happy Monday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and football on Nickelodeon was a pleasant experience after a chaotic week. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 97,614 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, after adding 924 new cases. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 6 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 24.6 percent. The state announced six more deaths, bringing the total to 1,916. There were 390 people in the hospital, and 29,743 residents had received the first dose of the vaccine.


At some point in early 2021, Dan McKee will be the seventh lieutenant governor to fill a vacancy in the governor’s office since Rhode Island approved its constitution in 1842. He’ll succeed Governor Gina Raimondo, who has been nominated to be President-elect Joe Biden’s commerce secretary. McKee has already said he intends to run for governor next year in what will likely be a crowded Democratic primary field.

So how did the previous lieutenant governors do when they rose to governor? Here’s a quick overview.

John S. McKiernan


Year he became governor: 1950

Governor McKiernan is the last lieutenant governor to take the state’s top job because of vacancy, and he also has the shortest tenure in the state history. He served for two weeks after Governor John Pastore became a US senator, until Dennis Roberts was sworn in early 1951. He went back to his old job and won reelection in 1952 and 1954, and resigned in 1956 to become a judge.

John PastoreDemocratYear he became governor: 1945He was he first Italian-American to be elected governor and the first to be elected the US Senate, but Governor Pastore initially made it to the governor’s office because of a vacancy. In 1945, Governor J. Howard McGrath resigned to become U.S. solicitor general, and Pastore was elevated from lieutenant governor. He won the governor’s office in 1942 and 1944.


Norman Case 


Year he became governor: 1928

A former US attorney, Case was elected lieutenant governor in 1926 and then became governor two years later when Governor Aram Pothier died in office. He won the governor’s office in 1928 and 1930, but lost in 1932 to Democrat Theodore Francis Green.

Charles D. Kimball


Year he became governor: 1901

Governor Kimball was elevated from his lieutenant governor’s post when Governor William Gregory died in office. He ran for governor in 1902, but lost to Democrat Lucius Garvin. Fun fact: Until Kimball, statewide officers weren’t sworn in until May of the year following the election. They now take office the first Tuesday in January.

William C. Cozzens 


Year he became governor: 1863

Meet the governor with the second-shortest tenure running the state. Cozzens was the only non-Republican to serve as governor between 1857 and 1887, and his tenure lasted just under three months. Cozzens was the leader of the Rhode Island Senate in 1863, but became governor when Governor William Sprague became a US senator. The lieutenant governor’s office was vacant at the time, so Cozzens got the bump. He ran for governor, but lost the same year.

Francis M. Dimond 


Year he became governor: 1853

Rhode Island’s 1842 constitution – it was previously governed under the 1663 Royal Charter – included a succession plan in the governor’s office, and Governor Dimond was the first test case. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1853, but became governor the same year because Governor Philip Allen resigned to become a US Senator. He ran and lost in the governor’s race of 1854.



⚓ My latest: Rhode Island College has been forced to take extraordinary steps to close its budget deficit, so the state hired a $76,000-a-week consultant to help the school. Read more.

⚓ Ed Fitzpatrick reports that Republican state Representative Justin Price is being called on to resign after acknowledging he marched to the US Capitol on Wednesday and espousing the debunked conspiracy theory that Antifa was to blame for the ensuing riot. Read more.

⚓ Lieutenant Governor McKee is in quarantine after coming into close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. Read more.

⚓ This week’s Ocean State Innovators Q&A is with John Lopes, founder of Ram Head Sports, based in Pawtucket.  E-mail Ed if you have someone he should talk to for his weekly interview. Read more.

⚓ US Representative David Cicilline was among the first members of Congress to call for President Donald Trump to be impeached following last week’s breach of the US Capitol. In an op-ed for the Globe, he lays out his case. Read more.


⚓ POTUS: My colleague Jess Bidgood writes that the most important week of Joe Biden’s presidency may have happened before it even started, one that deepened the nation’s political, public health, and economic crises and swiftly altered the tools he will have to address them. Read more.


⚓ Business: With Boston Mayor Marty Walsh heading to Washington, D.C. to join Biden’s cabinet, Jon Chesto looks at how Walsh ended up becoming a business-friendly mayor. Read more.

⚓ Riot: The Globe analyzed videos, photos, social media posts, and more to reconstruct how a violent mob overpowered police and entered the Capitol. Read more.

⚓ Health: As the country scrambles to distribute a pair of promising COVID-19 vaccines, the process has been hindered by many of the same issues — supply shortages, public confusion, delays — that impeded other mass vaccination rollouts throughout US history. 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.

⚓ Superior Court Judge Melissa Long will be sworn in as the first Black Rhode Island Supreme Court justice this morning.

⚓ Providence’s Environmental Sustainability Task Force will meet at 4 p.m. to discuss its priorities for 2021.

⚓ The Cranston City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. to hold advice and consent hearings for new Mayor Ken Hopkins’ nominees for top city jobs. 

⚓ 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.