While Lt. Gov. Dan McKee is poised to assume the governorship upon Gov. Gina Raimondo’s confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Commerce, it will only add more intrigue to what assuredly will be a spirited campaign for governor.

With the mayor of Providence and all general officers – except attorney general – term limited at the end of 2022, it was expected to be a crowded field of political heavyweights vying for the 2022 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Nothing has really changed.

McKee, who likely will assume the governorship this month, will have only a few months to distinguish himself in the position as the gubernatorial campaign heats up. McKee will have the advantage of being the incumbent, with a primary election for the 2022 Democratic nomination just 19 months away.

Expected to enter the Democratic gubernatorial race are Lt. Gov. McKee, who has said he would seek reelection as governor; Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea; General Treasurer Seth Magaziner; and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. All are raising substantial campaign funds.

There are no Republicans that stand out as leading candidates, with all familiar names raising little or no funds. Among those who have run for governor before, or had been thought to be potential candidates, are former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (he’s run twice before); Ken Block (also lost twice for governor); Rep. Blake Filippi, House Minority Leader who represents district 36 (Block Island, Charlestown, and parts of South Kingstown), and former Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders, who was unsuccessful in a bid for U.S. Senate last election.

A review of the most recent campaign finance reports showed Fung has raised nothing in the last quarter to add to his $23,105 campaign fund, and Filippi with cash of $36,303 and outstanding loans (apparently to himself) of $77,508.

Campaign finance reports provide a window into what groups or individuals support a particular candidate and believe that candidate would be supportive of their interests.

A review of potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates’ financial reports for the quarter ending Dec. 31 show distinct groups supporting each candidate, plus a few donors who seem to be hedging their bets, donating to multiple campaigns. Donating to competing campaigns is not unusual as some businesses, such as political consultants/public relations firms, look to impress potential clients or influence decision makers.

Here’s a look at each of the potential candidates’ campaign finance report for the period ending Dec. 31, 2020. Except for fund balance, all figures relate only to the last quarter of 2020.

Lt. Gov. Daniel J. McKee

Total Fund Balance: $119,030 (the campaign also reports loans payable of $46,923)

Contributions from Individuals: $64,900

Contributions from Political Action Committees: $2,600

Much of his support: McKee, who is a strong advocate of small business, predictably is receiving considerable support from small businesses. He has also been a strong charter school advocate – he started the mayor academies – and is receiving some support from charter schools. His support from PACs includes the Utility Contractors Association, healthcare organizations, and Rhode Island Motorcycle PAC.

Other notable contributions: 

  • State Sen. Lou DiPalma, D-Dist. 12, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton. DiPalma is among those being considered to replace McKee as lieutenant governor.
  • William Fischer, True North Communications.
  • Lawyer and lobbyist William Goldberg.
  • Colin Kane and Jordan Stone, Perigrine Group.

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner

Total Fund Balance: $343,041 (Magaziner has also loaned his campaign more than $700,000, bringing the cash fund balance over $1 million.)

Contributions from Individuals: $77,950

Contributions from Political Action Committees: $14,700

Much of his support: Magaziner received several donations from individuals in the New York City law firm of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP (“BLB&G”), which, according to its website, “prosecutes class and private actions on behalf of individual and institutional clients. Since our founding in 1983, we have obtained many of the largest monetary recoveries in history – over $33 billion on behalf of investors … Working with our clients, we have also used the litigation process to achieve precedent-setting reforms which have increased market transparency, held wrongdoers accountable and improved corporate business practices in groundbreaking ways.” He also received considerable support from police and fire labor union political action committees.

Other notable contributions: 

  • Joe Rodio, Jr., who chairs Lt. Gov. Dan McKee’s transition team, and who was not listed among McKee’s donors on the latest report.
  • William Fischer, True North Communications, a public relations firm.
  • Illinois state Treasurer Mike Frerichs.
  • Colin Kane of Perigrine Group.
  • David Preston, president of the public relations firm, New Harbor Group.
  • Former Rhode Island Senate President M. Tereasa Paiva Weed, president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea

Total Fund Balance: $415,352

Contributions from Individuals: $99,672

Contributions from Political Action Committees: $3,750

Much of his support: Gorbea, who was born in Puerto Rico, has received significant support from Latino organizations, labor unions, and a few individuals who list colleges and universities as their occupation, most from Rhode Island, but also some from out of state institutions.

Other notable contributions:

  • Jorge Amesto of the Latino Psychological Institute
  • Former Rhode Island Senate President M. Paiva Weed, currently president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island
  • Former Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Kennedy
  • Rhode Island League of Charter Schools
  • David Preston, president of the public relations firm, New Harbor Group
  • National Education Association of Rhode Island, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Rhode Island AFL-CIO, Carpenters and United Nurses unions
  • Juana Paheco, Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza

Total Fund Balance: $880,943

Contributions from Individuals: $180,119

Contributions from Political Action Committees: $2,900

Much of his support: As mayor of the state’s capital city, Elorza received broad support from businesses and organizations doing business with the city of Providence, Latino organizations, and labor unions. Of all the potential candidates, Elorza raised far more individual contributions, but least from Political Action Committees, except for Lt. Gov. McKee.

Other notable contributions: 

  • David Preston, president of the public relations firm, New Harbor Group
  • Brenda Clement from Rhode Island Housing Works
  • Alan Feinstein of the Feinstein Foundation
  • William Fischer of the public relations firm, True North Communications
  • James Malachowski of the public relations/advertising firm, RDW Group
  • Patti Doyle of Pattie Doyle Communications, a public relations firm
  • Doraliz Ortiz, head of legal and regulatory compliance for the Emirates National Oil Co.


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