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McKee wins R.I. Democratic primary for Governor, edging out Foulkes, Gorbea

Many incumbents in the General Assembly kept their seats, including both the House Speaker and the Senate President

RI governor Governor Dan McKee addresses supporters at The Renaissance Hotel in Providence following the state’s primary election Tuesday.Ryan T. Conaty/Ryan T. Conaty for the Boston Gl

PROVIDENCE — Governor Daniel J. McKee pulled off a narrow victory over former CVS executive Helena Buonanno Foulkes on Tuesday night in the Democratic primary for governor.

With 98 percent of polling places reporting, McKee had 32.8 percent of the vote while Foulkes had 30.1 percent.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee gives an acceptance speech in front of supporters at a primary night watch party in Providence.David Goldman/Associated Press

Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea, who had been in or near the lead in earlier voting, had 26.1 percent after a brutal last few weeks on the campaign trail. Former secretary of state Matt Brown had 7.9 percent, followed by Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz with 3.1 percent.

McKee will now face Republican Ashley Kalus, a healthcare executive and former Golden Gloves boxing champion, in the Nov. 8 general election


“The general election starts now,” McKee said during his victory speech. “Let’s get ready. Round two. I didn’t bring the boxing gloves. But we’re putting them on.”

The final results were delayed in part because McKee’s hometown of Cumberland had trouble transmitting results, so memory sticks had to be delivered to the Board of Elections, spokesman Christopher Hunter said. McKee, the former lieutenant governor, became governor in March 2021 when former Governor Gina M. Raimondo was named US commerce secretary.

At first Foulkes refused to concede, issuing a statement that said, “Democratic primary voters cast their ballots in a critical election that will decide the future of our state — thousands of those vote have yet to be counted. This election is still too close to call, and we owe it to voters to ensure that every single ballot is counted.”

But she later called McKee to concede, though McKee appeared to refuse to take her call while he was on live TV celebrating his victory.

Kalus, a healthcare executive, trounced Jonathan Riccitelli in the GOP primary. With 91 percent of polling places reporting, she had 83.6 percent of the vote to Riccitelli’s 16.4 percent.


Kalus issued a statement, saying she was honored to accept the Republican nomination for governor.

“Rhode Island needs a fighter – now more than ever,” she said. “Every day is getting harder for working families. We’re getting killed at the pump, food prices are soaring, utility bills are through the roof, and the dream of owning a home is out of reach for many. Insiders have let our state down for the last 80 years, and it’s now time for an outsider to get the job done.”

Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Sabrina Matos also fended off a primary challenge, 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.

Incumbents in the General Assembly withstood challenges in their primaries, with House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio both fending off opponents and avoiding any immediate seismic shifts atop the General Assembly power structure.

Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat, trounced Jacqueline Anderson, who was backed by the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, receiving 69.6 percent of the vote in House District 23.

And Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat, again beat back a challenge from the Political Cooperative’s Lenny Cioe and from Stephen G. Tocco, in Senate District 4. Ruggerio had 59.3 percent of the vot3, to Cioe’s 34.8 percent and Tocco’s 6 percent, with 100 percent of polling places reporting.


“While the Senate president has not heard from Lenny Cioe that he has conceded the race, he is energized and ecstatic with the broad-based mandate he has received formfrom the voters of District 4,” Ruggerio’s chief of staff Jake Bissaillon said.

Overall, the General Assembly saw 40 Democratic primaries and three Republican primaries on Tuesday that could reshuffle the power structure on Smith Hill.

Progressives went into the night hoping to build on their gains in the House and Senate during the 2018 and 2020 elections cycles, but they were also defending some seats while trying to win open seats and challenge more mainstream Democrats. In Senate District 6, or example, Senator Tiara Mack, a progressive Providence Democrat who raised eyebrows over the summer for twerking on a beach, beat former Representative Joseph S. Almeida, taking 56.7 percent of the vote to Almeida’s 43.3 percent.

But there were some upsets, including in House District 9, where House Labor Committee Chair Anastasia P. Williams, who has been in office for nearly 30 years, lost to Enrique Sanchez, a 25-year-old former political director of Black Lives Matter RI PAC. Sanchez received 52.8 percent of the vote, topping Williams with 39.8 percent and Lonnie Mangum with 7.4 percent.

In a race with national implications, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner scored a convincing win in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat the US Democratic US Representative James R. Langevin is vacating after 22 years in office.


Magaziner held a commanding lead, with 54.2 percent of the vote, far ahead of David A. Segal at 15.8 percent, Sarah E. Morgenthau at 12.1 percent, Joy Fox at 11 percent, Omar Bah at 4.6 percent, and Spencer E. Dickson at 2.3 percent. Those totals reflected 90 percent of polling places including early voting and mail ballots

The victory sets up a high-profile matchup between Magaziner and Allan W. Fung, a Republican former Cranston mayor who gives the GOP its best chance to flip a seat that has been in Democratic hands since 1991.

“Our campaign is not about me,” Magaziner said in a victory speech at the Greenwood Inn in Warwick. “It is about making sure that fundamental rights, and in particular the right of women to make their own health care decisions, is protected in this state.

Globe reporter Brian Amaral contributed to this report.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.