While there are a half dozen Democrats vying for the party’s gubernatorial nomination, and one Republican whose campaign says he will soon announce, the campaigns are gearing up, at least when it comes to fundraising.

Political insiders suggest that candidates are yet to get into heavy campaign mode, but are flexing their financial muscle, raising funds for what should be an expensive race. 

Today (Monday, Nov. 1) candidates are required to file their campaign finance reports for the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30. 

If the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey are any barometer, spending will increase considerably. In Virginia reports in late October show the candidates have raised some $115 million, “crushing” the previous record of $60 million, according to election officials. In New Jersey gubernatorial candidates have raised $46 million as of late October, double that of four years ago.

Only one Rhode Island candidate, Louis Daniel Munoz, filed his third quarter financial report early. Munoz, a doctor, acknowledges it is likely he will raise less money than any other candidate. His financial report says he raised $5,104 in the third quarter, while spending $3,059. He began the quarter with a balance of $3,631. Munoz’s ending third quarter cash balance was reported as $5,626.

Four other Democrats have publicly declared their candidacies, and one, Gov. Daniel McKee, has given every indication he will run for reelection. The other Democratic gubernatorial candidates are Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, former Secretary of State Matt Brown, and former CVS Executive Helena Foulkes.

Going into the third quarter, Magaziner had the largest campaign fund, with a cash balance of $1,500,334; McKee’s balance was $716,596; Gorbea’s balance was $668,186; and Brown’s balance was $49. Foulkes had yet to announce her candidacy.

On the Republican side, no candidate has officially announced, although a campaign worker for former Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority Chair David Darlington, has said Darlington will announce soon. 

Another Republican mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate, who has reportedly said he’s interested in running, is state Rep. Blake Filippi, R-Dist. 36, representing Block Island, Charlestown, and parts of Westerly and South Kingstown. Filippi is the House Minority Leader. At the end of the second quarter Filippi had a campaign fund balance of $37,148.

Both McKee and Brown have indicated they will be running in tandem with their lieutenant governor candidates. In many states the governor and lieutenant governor run as a team, but in Rhode Island they run separately. McKee has said he’d like to change that, but that would need a constitutional amendment.

When McKee became governor, upon Gov. Raimondo’s departure for the Biden administration, he chose Providence Councilwoman Sabina Matos to fill the lieutenant governor’s position. Matos, at the end of the second quarter, had a healthy campaign fund balance of $258,416.

Brown, when he announced his candidacy for governor did so with state Senator Cynthia Mendes, D-Dist. 18 of East Providence as his lieutenant governor candidate. Mendes’ campaign fund balance at the end of the second quarter was $2,009.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal....