PROVIDENCE — In December, former state Representative Aaron Regunberg appeared to be gearing up for another run for lieutenant governor.
The Providence Democrat sent supporters a campaign-style video, emphasizing that he’d received 49 percent of the vote in a 2018 Democratic primary, nearly unseating then-Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee. “We almost got there two years ago,” he wrote at the time. “I know that this time around, together, we can get the job done.”
But now Regunberg appears to be having second thoughts about a second run at the No. 2 spot.
“Obviously dynamics have changed a lot since I shared I was exploring another (lieutenant governor) campaign in December,” Regunberg told the Globe on Monday. “Right now I’m focused on finishing law school and figuring out how to put this degree to work in support of climate justice (and thinking more about how to support new progressive legislative/local candidates than about running for office myself).”
The changed dynamics include the fact that McKee became governor in March after Gina M. Raimondo became US Commerce Secretary, and McKee then chose Sabina Matos, then Providence City Council president, to succeed him as lieutenant governor.
Regunberg was among the dozens of people who had asked McKee to consider them for the vacant lieutenant governor’s position. But when when McKee picked Matos, he praised the choice as “a historic milestone for our state and for women and BIPOC communities.” He said he’d known Matos for years and “appreciated her leadership and her commitment to critical issues like increasing affordable housing in Providence.”
Regunberg, 31, is now studying at Harvard Law School, where he has worked with the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program to support national climate litigation. He also founded a national campaign to hold top law firms accountable for helping protect the fossil fuel industry. He plans to graduate in May 2022.
After graduating from Brown University, Regunberg co-founded the Providence Student Union, an education justice organization that supports young people fighting for better public schools. In 2014, he was elected to the General Assembly, representing Providence’s East Side. After his narrow loss to McKee in 2018, he worked as a policy adviser for the City of Providence.
Regunberg has $85,996 in his campaign account, according to his latest report filed with the state Board of Elections. He raised $984 in the second quarter of this year, after raising $7,350 in the first quarter. Second quarter filings were due Monday.
Matos, meanwhile, has $258,415 in her campaign account after raising $31,575 in the second quarter, according to the campaign finance report she filed on Monday.
Rhode Island Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki said she is not certain who the GOP candidates for lieutenant governor will be in 2022. “I’m working on it,” she said Monday. “I’m talking to a number of people, but no one has declared yet.”