The Rhode Island Primary election is tomorrow and the gubernatorial race for both major parties could have a huge impact on the final election in November.
For the Democratic side, incumbent Gov. Gina Raimondo is locked in a tight race with former Secretary of State Matt Brown. Former State Representative Spencer Dickinson is another Democratic candidate trying to beat out Raimondo as the party’s choice for governor.
Both Brown and Dickinson have ran on issues appealing to the progressive voter, which could spell trouble for Raimondo. In the 2016 primary election, Rhode Island voted for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton by a whopping 11.63 percent. Progressive candidates have fared very well in Rhode Island primaries in the past, and there is expected to be large amount of protest votes against Raimondo that will help both Brown and Dickinson tomorrow.
Brown, who leads Dickinson and looks to be neck-and-neck with Raimondo, is running on a number of issues, mainly the fact that the state needs drastic change. Over the past few days, Brown participated in a “Walk the State” event, where he walked communities from Woonsocket to Narragansett connecting with voters and speaking with constituents.
“Things are just not working, and they haven’t been for a long time,” Brown said on Bill Bartholomew's radio show last night on 990WBOB. “It’s a broken system. What I hear over and over is, ‘Boy, we need a change.’ I’ve put out a serious agenda to lower the cost of health care, improve our schools, and make the changes we need.”
In recent weeks, Raimondo has funded numerous negative advertisements against the Matt Brown campaign in an effort to draw voters away from her progressive opponent and toward a more moderate approach. However, according to Brown, her efforts have actually backfired and drawn voters towards his campaign. Raimondo has also received criticism from voters about her refusal to participate in any debates leading up to the Democratic Primaries.
Following her through this election as well is Raimondo’s troubled past in Rhode Island politics. As treasurer, she was involved heavily in overhauling the money for pensions into hedge funds, a decision which lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Raimondo also passed the United Health Infrastructure Project, or UHIP, which was a multi-million dollar software which was deemed a failure by many in Rhode Island. Several people lost food stamps and rights to their welfare claims.
“With Matt Brown, I see identifying the problem,” Dickinson said to Tyler Salk on this station. “With Gina Raimondo, I see creating the problem.”
Like Brown, Dickinson is also running on educational reform. He sees the three most underfunded cities, Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls, and theorizes to create a consolidated district between the three. This would allow the cities to get federal funding together and take some of the financial weight off of Providence, which Dickinson claims is close to bankruptcy.
For the Republican side, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung is running for Governor after losing to Raimondo in 2014. He is up against State Representative Patricia Morgan and former Alex and Ani CEO Giovanni Feroce. Fung is the favorite to win the election, with Morgan trailing behind him.
Fung, a moderate candidate, is focused on the economy as well as the safety of the state. From his website, one of his main plans of action is to lower the sales tax until it eventually reaches five percent. The goal is to keep shoppers in Rhode Island and make the cost of doing business more appealing. Through recent advertisements, he has taken a hard stance on detaining criminal illegal aliens as well as removing any sanctuary cities in the state.
Morgan, who is a more conservative candidate, is also running on the economy. She, like Fung, is looking to lower taxes and make Rhode Island more business-friendly. She is a strong supporter of second-amendment rights and is against any more restrictions on gun laws in the state.
Although he may not be the most popular candidate, Feroce is confident that he will one day make a change in Rhode Island. Following the most recent debate, he feels confident that he has gained momentum and made a push toward winning the primary.
“80 percent of people aren’t paying attention until the very last week,” Feroce said on Bartholomew's show. “In the last week or so, after the NBC debate, a whole school of people I didn’t expect presented themselves to me.”
Feroce boasts a great resume from his past in business. Under his control, Alex and Ani increased its sales by over $200 million and he left the company with a total valuation of over $1 billion. His main goals are similar to his opponents- make Rhode Island a better state for business. While his ideas are similar, he has some that differ from any candidate in this election. Feroce wants to begin using new technology such as blockchain technology and quantum computing for our finances.
While he may not win, Feroce is confident that his ideas have stuck with voters, and he mentions to Bartholomew that this isn’t his last shot at the gubernatorial seat.
“I was determined to run a campaign of eventuality,” Feroce said. “Eventually, I know for sure that I’m going to be the governor of Rhode Island. Will it happen this year? I’m not sure. I wanted to raise up voter recognition of what we need to do as a state, and that is to pay attention to how we can create a new Rhode Island.”
Should the gubernatorial primaries turn out the same as 2016, Raimondo may have the slight advantage over Fung due to the Independent candidates - remember Bob Healey? Joe Trillo, an independent, has several republican views and has been compared even to Donald Trump, and he seems to be in a position to steal votes from the winner of the Republican Primary once the main election gets underway.
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