Incumbent Gov. Dan McKee won the Democratic primary for governor Tuesday night, narrowly defeating opponents Helena Foulkes, former chief executive of CVS Health, and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.
The close race was called by the Associated Press at 11 p.m. According to preliminary vote counts available early Wednesday morning, McKee earned 32.8% of the vote, followed by Foulkes at 30.1% and Gorbea at 26.1%.
Progressive challengers failed to gain traction in the race, with former RI Secretary of State Matt Brown and Luis Daniel Muñoz, a doctor and community activist, accumulating about eight and three percent of the vote, respectively.
McKee has faced a difficult re-election campaign, especially following the launch of an FBI investigation into an alleged conflict of interest in bidding for a state education contract. An August poll conducted by Roger Williams University and WPRI put McKee at 28%, with Gorbea close behind at 25%.
“I’m feeling good for the people of the state of Rhode Island,” McKee told WPRI in an interview following his win. “We’ve got momentum like we’ve never seen before.”
McKee, the former lieutenant governor, assumed the governorship of the Ocean State after former Gov. Gina Raimondo resigned to accept President Joe Biden’s nomination to be Secretary of Commerce.
Republican voters nominated businesswoman Ashley Kalus, who recently moved to Rhode Island, over businessman Jonathan Ricatelli in the primary for governor by a wide margin.
“Rhode Island needs a fighter – now more than ever. Every day is getting harder for working families,” Kalus said in a statement after her win. “Insiders have let our state down for the last 80 years, and it’s now time for an outsider to get the job done.”
In addition to the gubernatorial race, Rhode Island voters voted in primaries to decide which candidates advance to the November general election for positions including lieutenant governor, secretary of state, General Assembly positions and House representation in the 2nd Congressional District.
Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner ’06 will go on to face Republican Allan Fung in the race for Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District in one of New England’s tightest House elections. Magaziner defeated fellow Democrats David Segal, Omar Bah, Sarah Morgenthau, Joy Fox and Spencer Dickinson. Candidates leapt into the race following the surprise resignation announcement of current congressman Rep. Jim Langevin, The Herald previously reported.
“Together we can turn the page on Trumpism once and for all,” Magaziner said in a tweet declaring victory Tuesday. Magaziner has previously cited preserving democracy and removing Trump’s influence in government as his reasons for running for the House.
Fung, the former mayor of Cranston, would become the Ocean State’s first Asian-American member of Congress if elected. Although Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY18), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, described him as “an anti-abortion rubberstamp for MAGA Republicans,” Fung has positioned himself as a moderate conservative in the race against Magaziner, according to Politico.
Incumbent Democrat Sabina Matos will face Republican Aaron Guckian for the position of lieutenant governor. Matos defeated state Representative Deborah Ruggiero and state Senator Cynthia Mendes, while Guckian bested Paul Pence, who challenged then-Lt. Gov. McKee for his position in 2018.
Democrat James Diossa, former mayor of Central Falls, defeated state Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor for the state treasurer position, and will face Republican James Lathrop in the general election. Magaziner, the current treasurer, opted not to run for re-election and launched a run for governor before switching to the 2nd district race.
State Representative Gregg Amore won the Democratic race for Secretary of State, a position left open by current Secretary Gorbea’s gubernatorial run, against political newcomer Stephanie Beauté.