With the Rhode Island General Election less than 50 days away, Governor Gina Raimondo and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung are set for a rematch of the 2014 race. Raimondo has experienced a lot in her four years in office, and Fung is running a campaign based on reforming several aspects of the government.
However, there remains a constant from 2014- an outside candidate with a decent backing is expected to earn a good chunk of votes. Bob Healey, who identified as a Moderate, won 21.6 percent of the vote four years ago, and Independent Joe Trillo, a former state representative has a very good chance to do the same.
Trillo, while titled an Independent candidate, has conservative views that could attract Republican voters on Nov. 6. He runs a campaign surrounded by business and the economy, and his website states that the taxes imposed from the government can have a huge impact.
“Former State Representative Joe Trillo has been an outspoken fighter for the average taxpayer in Rhode Island,” he advertises. “As a small business owner most of his life, he realizes the importance that Government plays in either helping or hurting business growth.”
What’s interesting about Trillo is his specific positions. There are issues where his views are very similar to Raimondo’s, and issues where his ideas reflect those of Fung’s. For example, Gov. Raimondo and Trillo both list infrastructure as one of their main points of emphasis. The Raimondo administration has been criticized for the infrastructure, as Rhode Island was recently reported to have the worst infrastructure in the country.
Gov. Raimondo’s campaign website shows the action she’s already taken to repair the roads and bridges and explains the situation she inherited.
“When Gina took office, Rhode Island ranked dead last in bridge condition in America — one out of four bridges in our state was crumbling,” the site states. “Under Gina’s leadership, we have already fixed more than 75 bridges and roads, in every community in Rhode Island, as part of a 10-year, $4.7 billion investment in the state’s infrastructure.”
Much like Fung, Trillo is running hard for educational reform as well as tax reform, in light to attract more businesses to RI. They also hold similar views on immigration. Trillo’s website boasts of his success as a businessman, much like President Donald Trump’s campaign.
“He knows what it’s like to budget money in business to prosper, as opposed to politicians who know only how to spend taxpayers' hard earned money,” the Trillo campaign writes. “As a successful business person, he has the skills of a strong manager and communicator, a vocal advocate and leader, who always encourages people to do their best.”
His ideas for attracting businesses are much like Fung’s, as he plans to lower taxes and lower the price to start a business in the state. He also shares the same views on sanctuary cities and sees the issues with our education system- calling for a reform.
Trillo’s stance as an independent makes him an interesting candidate. Like in the 2014 election, Rhode Island has many voters who would rather not select Raimondo or Fung on their ballots.
Both the candidates have issues in their past, Fung with the Cranston Police Department and Raimondo’s decision as Treasurer to move the pension money into hedge funds. As governor, Raimondo received criticism, and took full accountability, for the failure of the UHIP program, which left many without their food stamps and proper welfare.
It’s hard to predict a turnout for Trillo at the same magnitude of Healey’s turnout. However, if either Fung or Raimondo should benefit from Trillo’s presence on the ballot, it’s the incumbent governor.
Trillo is often referred to as the “Trump” candidate in this election. He uses his background in business to validate his ideas for the economy, and he is centered on change. Like Trump, he offers an escape from the typical politician, and he has plans to work with the Trump administration to bring more federal funding to Rhode Island.
Since many of his views are more conservative, Trillo looks to gain some votes from Republican voters who are on the fence about Fung. With the criticisms surrounding the Raimondo administration, Democrats who are unhappy with the governor may swing over and vote for Trillo as well. Ultimately, Rhode Island is a blue state, and Trillo will “steal” more votes from Fung than he will Gina. Depending on his campaign efforts, Trillo could even earn enough protest votes to find himself in the Governor’s chair in early November.
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