fb-pixel

Gina Raimondo wins costly R.I. governor’s race

Will be first woman to hold top elected office

Democrat Gina Raimondo celebrated her win over Republican Allan Fung in the Rhode Island governor’s race.
Democrat Gina Raimondo celebrated her win over Republican Allan Fung in the Rhode Island governor’s race.AP/Associated Press

PROVIDENCE — Democrat Gina Raimondo defeated Republican Allan Fung on Tuesday to become the first woman elected governor of Rhode Island after a campaign that broke spending records and saw her snubbed by prominent labor groups over her pension system overhaul.

Raimondo’s victory over the Cranston mayor and the Moderate Party’s Robert Healey also makes her the first Democrat elected to the job since 1992.

‘‘I am going to be the governor who leads the comeback of this great state,’’ she told supporters at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence. ‘‘Tonight, Rhode Island said more of the same is not good enough. . . . Rhode Island said we need to move forward.’’

Advertisement



The 43-year-old state treasurer was favored going into the general election but struggled to consolidate support from public-sector unions. The AFL-CIO and National Education Association Rhode Island did not endorse her because of lingering anger over the 2011 law. The changes are being challenged in court.

Raimondo also found herself significantly trailing Fung on the money front after he got more than $1.1 million in public matching funds. She did not seek public financing, which allowed her to spend more than $5 million to win a heated three-way primary but left her broke in September.

Overall, candidates spent more than $15.7 million on the race, including in the primaries, and the campaign was flooded with additional independent expenditures on both sides. The Democratic Governors Association pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into an effort to defeat Fung.

Raimondo focused her campaign on plans to improve the state’s chronically struggling economy, saying she would become the ‘‘jobs governor.’’ She said she would position Rhode Island to be a center of advanced manufacturing and proposed investments in infrastructure, tourism and work force development.

She frequently said on the campaign trail that Rhode Island could not cut, or tax, its way out of the economic mess but rather would have to grow its way to better times.

Advertisement



The treasurer brought in first lady Michelle Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton during the home stretch for rallies designed to highlight policies that support the middle class, including a higher minimum wage.

President Obama stumped with Raimondo at a Providence restaurant after an official visit to Rhode Island last week.

Democrats swept all statewide races for the first time since the 1990s, according to party officials.

Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee was elected lieutenant governor over Republican Catherine Taylor; Seth Magaziner was elected treasurer over independent Ernie Almonte; Nellie Gorbea beat Republican John Carlevale for secretary of state; and incumbent Attorney General Peter Kilmartin fended off a challenge from GOP state Senator Dawson Hodgson.