Get Ready — The 2022 RI Governor’s Race Has Already Begun

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


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Could Jorge Elorza face the GOP House Leader in 2022?

It seems implausible that just one week after the election, the race for Rhode Island Governor in 2022 is already percolating.

Three of the state’s general officers are term-limited out of office as is the Mayor of Providence.

One surprising name that has recently come forward is former Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch.


Close allies of Lt. Governor Dan McKee tell GoLocal that the term-limited Lt. Governor is an ideal centrist candidate.

Return of Patrick Lynch

On Election night, Brendan Doherty, former Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and former Congressional candidate, told GoLocal News Editor Kate Nagle that former Rhode Island Attorney General could be a candidate in 2022.

“There's a lot of folks out there talking about running next time I know that I think that you could see somebody like Patrick Lynch come back to run,” said Doherty.

Lynch's resurrection may be complex after a New York Times series which focused on the influence of former attorney generals. Lynch was highlighted in part for his history of contributions to high profile Democrats and Republicans. Lynch has given to multiple Republicans including Pamela Bondi, the Attorney General of Florida, who is an ally of President Donald Trump. See the New York Times series HERE.

Calls and emails into Lynch went unanswered. SEE SLIDES BELOW.

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Cicilline has a tough fight to win the #4 position in the House leadership

House Leadership Fight and Cicilline

Another potential candidate is David Cicilline who is in a fight for a top leadership position in the House. If he is victorious then a 2022 run is unlikely, but if he loses out he might be frozen out of the House leadership.

He is in a battle against Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).

Luján just came off a big win — he was Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman.

Nancy Pelosi — the likely new Speaker of the House — created the position for James E. Clyburn when the Democrats lost the majority in 2010.  The position was an appointed role until the House Democratic caucus voted to make the position an elected post. 

A loss by Cicilline for the leadership slot and the potential of Rhode Island losing a Congressional seat might prompt Cicilline to take a shot at the Governorship.

GOP -- Old Hand or New Blood?

On the GOP side, many believe the party is a reclamation project. And some, like Brookings Institution's Darrell West, do not believe the Rhode Island Republican party can become a factor until President Donald Trump is out of office.

The GOP could return to Allan Fung -- he has a base in Cranston and statewide name recognition. Or the GOP could go "young blood" and tap a fresher face like incoming House Minority Leader Blake Filippi.


Editors Note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Sheri Busto as a challenger to Luján and Cicilline. She has left that race and is now a candidate to run the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


Related Slideshow: Potential Candidates for RI Governor 2022

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Lt. Governor Dan McKee (D)

The former Mayor of Cumberland has been elected to his second term as Lt.Governor.

Garnered strong support from conservatives when he was challenged by progressive Aaron Regunberg in the Democratic primary for Lt. Governor.

His one challenge -- fundraising.

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General Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D)

In January, he will be sworn into his second term as Rhode Island General Treasurer.

At his last campaign finance report -- 7 days before the election -- he had more than $524,000 cash on hand.

He will be judged in part by the state employees retirement fund's performance.

He is also saddled with more than $700,000 in campaign debts.

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Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D)

She is Rhode Island's and New England's first Latina elected to statewide office.

She reported $160,000 cash-on-hand with 7 days left before the general election.

In a crowded Democratic primary, Gorbea could be a major force.

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Former RI Attorney General Patrick Lynch (D)

Dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination in 2010. 

As GoLocal reported in July 2010, "It’s official: Patrick Lynch is dropping out of the race for governor:"

Yesterday the Attorney General announced he was stepping aside to avoid what almost certainly would have been a bruising primary battle with Democratic contender Frank Caprio. “Often in our elections, the people of Rhode Island have gotten the wrong leadership because of divisive costly primaries, especially in the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary,” Lynch said. “This election cycle had the makings of the same result.”

“I did not enter public service to become a footnote in history by injuring my party, resulting in the election of a governor who is not equipped to guide our wonderful State into the future it deserves,” Lynch said. “Therefore, today I am announcing that I am withdrawing my name from consideration to become the next Governor of Rhode Island.”

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Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R)

Bruce Sundlun won the governorship on his third try. Myrth York failed all three times when she was the Democratic nominee.

Fung however has been unable to significantly grow his base -- he won 37 percent of the vote in 2018 and 36 percent in 2014.

Could Fung come back? 

He only has two more years in office as Mayor of Cranston and is term-limited.

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Former Moderate and GOP Candidate Ken Block

Block, ho lost in 2010 as the Moderate Party candidate for Governor and again lost in 2014 in the GOP primary, sat out the 2018 race.

He hasn't stayed quiet -- he has been a leading advocate for the line-item veto.

Block does not rule out anything in the future and told GoLocal, "It is far too soon to be talking about 2022 when the inaugurations for 2018 have not yet happened!"

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Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza (D)

The Providence Mayor beat back a challenge from Dianne "Dee Dee" Witman without breaking a sweat. He was able to hoard his campaign funds and according to the last campaign finance report he is sitting on more than $630,000.

But, Providence mayors have not done well running for governor over the past half-century or more. Buddy Cianci, Joe Paolino, and Angel Taveras all failed when running for governor.

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Former Democratic Candidate Matt Brown (D)

An enigma. He was the golden boy in the 2000s and then his U.S. Senate campaign came unraveled.

In 2018, his challenge in the Democratic primary against Gina Raimondo failed to articulate a vision and struggled to raise money. It did pile up more debt.

Today, he has nearly $250,000 in campaign debt. 

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Former U.S. Senate Candidate Robert Flanders (R)

Some GOP leaders thought Flanders' resume and demeanor were a better match for the Governor's office rather than the United States Senate.

He was unable to make a dent against incumbent United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), but did raise his name recognition.

Four years is a lot of time to build a war chest and to build an organization.

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House Minority Leader Blake Filippi (R)

The fresh new face for the GOP. Filippi is an old school moderate in the mold of a John Chafee, Ron Machtley or Claudine Schneider but without the resume yet.

How he leads the Republicans in the House may set the stage for his future political fortunes. Will he join with the Mattiello team, the 21 Democrat dissidents, or keep the GOP independent?

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Former Democratic Candidate for Lt. Governor Aaron Regunberg

The 28-year-old State Representative ran a vigorous campaign for RI Lt. Governor and lost 51 percent to 49 percent to incumbent Dan McKee.

He was the highest profile progressive Democrat in the state.

Regunberg proved to be an aggressive campaigner and a strong fundraiser. He raised nearly $540,000 and loaned his campaign more than $130,000. 

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U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D)

Cicilline is in a battle to be elected to the #4 position in the House Democrats leadership, but if he is unsuccessful he may have to recalibrate his political future.

He is a dogged campaigner, a relentless fundraiser and is sitting on $938,000, according to federal campaign reports through October 17, 2018. 

His tenure as Mayor of Providence ended in a fiscal mess. His successor, Angel Taveras called the state of the city's finances a "category 5 fiscal hurricane."

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Attorney General-Elect Peter Neronha (D)

Neronha is the first to tell you he has no ambition to run for Governor and hopes to serve Rhode Islanders and then potentially run for reelection. But, time and politics can be factors. 

Neronha has some ambitious advisors in his inner circle. Time will tell.

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House Majority Leader Joe Shekarchi (D)

Shekarchi is between the proverbial rock and hard place -- being number 2 to Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello. On one side is 44 Democrats supporting Mattiello's reelection and on the other is 21 Democratic House members who oppose his reelection.

Members of the Rhode Island General Assembly don't always succeed in running Statewide or for significant offices, but Peter Kilmartin (Attorney General), David Cicilline (Mayor of Providence and Congress), Jim Langevin (Secretary of State and Congress) Robert Weygand (Congress) all emerged from the State House in recent history. 

Shekarchi is sitting on nearly $800,000 in his campaign account.

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Former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras (D)

Lost to Governor Gina Raimondo in the Democratic primary for Governor in a three-way race in 2014. Taveras won 29 percent of the vote to Raimondo's 42 percent and Clay Pell's 27 percent.

Taveras, Providence's first Latino Mayor won strong points for managing the city's fiscal crisis left by now-Congressman David Cicilline, but ran into petty political issues -- he was widely criticized for closing a swimming pool in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city after a political dispute with a member of the City Council.


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