Rhode Islanders showed up and went blue Tuesday, with the highest midterm voter turnout in over a decade. Voters elected a Democratic majority across every statewide and federal office and approved a $250 million bond issue to rebuild schools.
Notable Election Day victors included incumbent Gov. Gina Raimondo, who retained her seat with over 50 percent of the vote in a six-way race. Her closest contender, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, trailed behind at 38 percent. The governor’s win is sizable in comparison to the 2014 race, when she secured 40.7 percent of the vote to narrowly edge out Fung’s 36.2 percent.
“To all the little girls out there in Rhode Island, that’s the message to you,” Raimondo said in her acceptance speech. “You can be anything you want if you work hard.”
Fung congratulated Raimondo on a “hard-fought campaign” during his concession speech, commending her for “(driving) out that vote.”
In a remarkably close race, incumbent Rhode Island Speaker Nicholas Mattiello edged out Republican Steven Frias to keep his seat with only 141 votes separating the two before mail ballots were counted, according to the Rhode Island Board of Elections.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Representative David Cicilline ’83 (D-R.I.) kept their seats, as did Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea also easily defended their titles.
Rhode Islanders also voted in favor of the state’s largest bond issue ever — $250 million for school repairs. Voters also approved bonds to remodel the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Campus and Rhode Island College’s Feinstein School of Education and Human Development. They also supported $47.3 million in bonds for environmental, water and recreational projects.
As of 8:30 p.m., 346,735 Rhode Islanders had voted in the election, according to RIBOE. Voting across the state appeared to go smoothly with the exception of Portsmouth High School’s polling location, which stayed open past the 8 p.m. closing time due to an electrical issue that moved voters to a gym in a different building.
Executive Director of RIBOE Robert Rapoza told The Herald that he is “very pleased with the way the election was conducted today.”