Characterizing herself as tough, informed and with a vision to root out corruption and spark the economy, state Rep. Patricia Morgan, R-West Warwick, is focused on becoming Rhode Island’s next governor.

She is among three Republicans who will battle in a primary election for the right to challenge incumbent Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat seeking her second term.

“I’ve spent seven years in the legislature,” said Morgan, a Kent State University graduate, who began her career as a special education teacher and is now a financial advisor. “I have studied the issues. I actually have solutions or the beginning of solutions.”

She criticized her Republican opponents – Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and businessman Giovanni Feroce – for either lacking the resolve to tackle tough issues or for lacking a solid financial foundation.

And, she added, that if grading Gov. Raimondo, she would give her an F, providing a scathing review of her handling of UHIP (Unified Health Infrastructure Project), the state’s flawed public assistance system, which was launched despite warnings from the federal government.

The UHIP problems, she said, “hurt some of the most vulnerable people.”

She also reiterated her consistent criticism of a truck tolling system that is scheduled to be implemented in February, and which Morgan said will not raise the money needed to fund road repairs. Her prediction is truckers will pass on costs to consumers, and that eventually, the system will lead to also tolling cars.

While criticizing Raimondo’s handling of several issues, she also said that her campaign will center on three areas – corruption, the economy, and education.

  • She said that not only is it necessary to eliminate the kind of corruption that has resulted in legislators being charged and jailed for misdeeds but also what she referred to as soft corruption – “pay to play, I know a guy, insiders, lack of transparency.”
  • Economics. “We need to focus on free market principles,” she said. “We have a hostile business climate in Rhode Island.” She called for a review of regulatory systems and monitoring the success of tax incentive programs that have often been used by the Commerce Department as a tool to attract companies to Rhode Island.
  • “Education is the way we allow people to improve their lives, to end the cycle of poverty,” Morgan said. She referenced reports of schools throughout Rhode Island that need a significant upgrade. A recent report said it would cost more than $600 million just to bring schools to a safe level for students and teachers, and more than a billion dollars to bring all schools up to adequate levels. Morgan said she has yet to take a position on a proposal by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner to borrow some $500 million, matched by communities, in a 10-year program to upgrade schools. “These are kids and teachers,” she said. “We can’t wait 10 years.”

The House minority leader, Morgan has been an outspoken critic of the current administration and Democratic legislature.

She grew up in a working-class family in a small, rural Ohio town, earned her bachelor’s degree from Kent State, and a Master’s in Special Education from Rhode Island College.

She came to Rhode Island when her Naval aviator husband was transferred to here. She is the mother of three sons, and has one grandchild.