Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee Wins First Full Term


PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) — Democratic Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee defeated Republican challenger Ashley Kalus to win his first full term.

PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) — Democratic Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee defeated Republican challenger Ashley Kalus to win his first full term.

McKee is a former lieutenant governor who became the state’s chief executive in March 2021 when two-term governor Gina Raimondo was named U.S. Secretary of Commerce. He was the big frontrunner in the liberal state as a Democrat and incumbent, which was backed by a host of big unions. Kalus is a business owner and political novice who moved to the state last year.

McKee said in his victory speech that he would continue to work to help families and municipalities and create jobs.

“Let’s make sure we do what we need to do to bring this state to a level that we’ve never seen before, because we have momentum like we’ve never seen before in this state,” he said. he declares. “We’re going to keep it, and we’re just getting started.”

McKee sought to differentiate himself from Kalus by explaining that he is a lifelong Rhode Islander with decades of public service in the state. Like Democrats nationwide, he worked to keep abortion rights central to the campaign and convince voters he would stand up for reproductive rights.

He pointed to the executive order he signed after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade that prohibits cooperation with other states investigating people who travel to Rhode Island for abortions.

“It is more important than ever to ensure that we have strong leadership at the state level who will fight to protect these rights,” he said. “Governors are the last line of defense, and as long as I am governor, the right to choose will always be protected.”

Only about 15% of registered voters in the state are Republicans. Kalus has tried to convince independent voters, who make up more than 40% of the electorate, that McKee is an insider politician who is beholden to special interests. She seized on the fact that the FBI is currently investigating the awarding of a controversial state contract and criticized McKee for approving public funding from developers. She told voters she would end the “I know a guy” system in Rhode Island and help working families.

She thanked her supporters in her concession speech, telling them it was “the honor of a lifetime” to serve as their voice.

Kalus, who owns a COVID-19 testing company that is suing the state over a voided contract, moved to Rhode Island from Illinois last year and previously worked for the former Republican governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner. She bought a house in Newport, registered to vote in Rhode Island as a Republican in January and declared her candidacy in March.

A week before the election, profanity texts were shared with the media that Kalus sent to a contractor in 2018 and 2019 in Chicago. Kalus was upset by construction delays and billing disputes when she opened a new medical practice with her husband. She defended the texts to WPRO, saying they showed she and taxpayers would not be taken advantage of if she were governor.

Independent candidates Zachary Hurwitz and Paul Rianna and libertarian Elijah Gizzarelli were also on the ballot.

Voter turnout when polls closed in the general election was about 43% of the 815,000 residents eligible to vote, according to an unofficial tally from the secretary of state’s office. Turnout in the 2018 midterm elections was 48% in Rhode Island.

In Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the Justice Department monitored polls to ensure they complied with federal voting rights laws. The city was one of 64 jurisdictions in 24 selected states. The Justice Department has sent lawyers to monitor election sites across the country for more than five decades.

McKee has been endorsed by major unions representing teachers, firefighters, construction trades, autoworkers and others. Planned Parenthood’s political action committee in Rhode Island and gun safety groups have also endorsed McKee. He survived a tough primary, winning just a third of the vote against former CVS leader Helena Foulkes, who saw a late rise in the polls, and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.

The governor campaigned on his efforts to help the state’s economy recover from COVID-19, promising he could build on the momentum. He said he would continue to work to pass “smart gun safety laws” to ensure every resident is safe.

McKee’s 94-year-old mother, Willa, was a hit in the primary for a comedy commercial. She returned to help him in the general election, appearing in another commercial and jokingly interrupting him when he steals her line.

McKee said he enjoyed watching his mother “become a big celebrity” in Rhode Island.

In other statewide races, Democrat Peter Neronha was re-elected Attorney General and Democrat Gregg Amore was elected Secretary of State.

Jennifer Mcdermott, Associated Press


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