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McKee leads Kalus in race for R.I. governor: WPRI/RWU poll

The cellphone/landline poll was conducted Sept. 29 through Oct. 2.

Democratic Governor Daniel J. McKee, left, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ashley Kalus.Handout

PROVIDENCE — Incumbent Democratic Governor Dan McKee has jumped to a double-digit lead over Republican challenger Ashley Kalus, according to a poll released Thursday by WPRI 12 and Roger Williams University.

The survey of 402 likely voters shows McKee at 45 percent and Kalus at 32 percent, with three little-known independents — Elijah Gizzarelli, Zachary Hurwitz, and Paul Rianna Jr. — receiving a combined total of 7 percent.

With just over a month until the general election, 15 percent of voters polled said they were undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. The cellphone/landline poll was conducted Sept. 29 through Oct. 2.

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“Dan McKee is in a good position in the sense that he only needs to convert a few more percentage points, but keep in mind that nobody knew who Ashley Kalus was six months ago,” said Joe Fleming, who conducted the poll.

McKee won a tight Democratic primary last month with just 33 percent of the vote, and Kalus has already spent millions of dollars trying to increase her name recognition and appeal to independents by flooding the airwaves with television commercials in recent months.

Kalus has repeatedly attacked McKee on a range of issues, including a controversial education consulting contract his administration issued early in his tenure as governor and for giving bonuses to thousands of state employees in an election year.

McKee has labeled Kalus a carpetbagger who only registered to vote in Rhode Island earlier this year, after spending several years living in Florida and Illinois. She and her husband, a wealthy surgeon, moved to Rhode Island after their business was awarded a COVID-19 testing contract that brought in millions of dollars.

The two candidates are expected to square off in their first televised debate on Oct. 11. The general election is Nov. 8.

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