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RI POLITICS

Matos wins Democratic primary for R.I. lieutenant governor

The former Providence City Council president will face Republican primary winner Aaron Guckian in November’s general election

Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Sabina MatosLane Turner/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos has won the Democratic primary for the state’s No. 2 job, defeating state Representative Deb Ruggiero and state Senator Cynthia Mendes.

With 95 percent of polling places reporting, Matos had 47 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections.

Matos advances to the Nov. 8 general election to face Republican primary winner Aaron Guckian.

Matos, a former Providence City Council president who still lives in the city’s Olneyville neighborhood, was appointed lieutenant governor last year by Governor Dan McKee after McKee took over the state’s top job when Gina Raimondo joined President Biden’s administration.

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Since taking office, Matos has often been seen at McKee’s side during press conferences and other major events. She has been tasked with tackling the state’s housing crisis, and she campaigned on doing more to build affordable homes in Rhode Island.

Ruggiero, who has represented Jamestown and Middletown in the House since 2009, pledged to focus on the economy, education, the environment, and the elderly if she was elected lieutenant governor. She had the support of House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi.

Mendes, a one term state senator who turned heads in 2020 when she upset then-Senate Finance Committee chairman Bill Conley, ran as a progressive challenger to Matos. She and gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown ran as a ticket, and they were supported by the Rhode Island Political Cooperative.

Matos likely begins the general election as a heavy favorite to win reelection against Guckian, although he is raising the money necessary to run a competitive race. A former aide to governor Don Carcieri, he is running alongside Republican gubernatorial nominee Ashley Kalus and congressional candidate Allan Fung.

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