After nearly a month and a half of confusing limbo, former Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo finally resigned March 2 after she was sworn in as Joe Biden’s commerce secretary.
Dan McKee was sworn in shortly after as governor and immediately signed an executive order pledging the “highest standards of integrity” in his administration.
Now, for someone who has worked his way up Cumberland town council, to mayor, to lieutenant governor, the question now becomes, what does he stand for? Will he continue in lockstep what Raimondo pushed for, or break and create his own identity?
Here’s our biggest expectations for governor McKee.
Expect a big emphasis on vaccines.
Even before McKee was sworn in, he was already making news for his stance on vaccine prioritization.
In January, McKee publicly broke with Raimondo in supporting the prioritization of teachers in receiving vaccines, and on February 25, he pledged to do so when sworn in.
In his second day in office, McKee signed an executive order to work with cities and towns to administer vaccines.
A changing of the guard clearly means a change in approach, but McKee seems to be wasting no time in changing the state’s path on COVID-19.
Expect a clear picture of where he stands over the next week.
While McKee has avoided answering policy questions since it became clear he would become governor, where he stands on many issues will become clear when he proposes the state budget by the March 11 deadline.
All we know right now is where he stands on taxes.
"We are going to try not to raise taxes, but not to take away from programs," McKee said in the Providence Journal. "As I have been talking about for weeks, we are not going to talk in particulars about the budget until we have a clear picture about federal [relief]."
McKee did not rule out raising taxes for the highest income bracket.
The biggest challenge for McKee is the estimated $329 million deficit.
Expect McKee to be here for good.
While a lot can change between now and the 2022 gubernatorial elections, McKee is already signalling a run next year. His timing might be perfect — he’s taking the reins at a time when economic and social recovery are expected without much outside influence.
That being said, McKee does have time to mess things up. Assuming most Americans are vaccinated by the summer months, as Biden has pledged to accomplish, there is still significant time for cracks in the venier of good government to show.
Big picture, McKee is expected to be more moderate than Raimondo and fight for the interests of small businesses.
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