PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democrat Gina Raimondo was elected the first female governor of Rhode Island on Tuesday, capping a rapid rise in state politics following her successful but controversial effort to overhaul the state pension system.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Raimondo had 40 percent of the vote, compared with 36 percent for Republican Allan Fung and a stunning 22 percent for Moderate Robert Healey, the bearded iconoclast who spent a grand total of $35.31 on his campaign.
“I think that 20 percent or more clearly will show a statement and it shows that money in politics is not necessary,” Healey said Tuesday.
Raimondo, the general treasurer, and Fung, the mayor of Cranston, spent the last eight weeks locked in a tight race, with polls giving Raimondo a slight edge overall as Healey’s support surged.
Raimondo addressed the crowd on Tuesday night, just minutes after learning she would be the next governor.
“I commit to you, the people of Rhode Island, to rebuild this economy, to rebuild the state, and to get Rhode Island back to work and in good middle class jobs,” she stated.
As election night inched closer, Fung had criticized Raimondo over the 38 Studios bonds and her management of the state’s pension fund, while Raimondo criticized Fung over his proposed tax cuts and record in Cranston.
Fung was emotional as he addressed a crowd of supporters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick. He will now head back to Cranston as mayor.
“As mayor of our state’s third-largest city, I know we’re all going to be working together in the months ahead to address all of the challenges that are facing our great state,” he said during his concession speech.
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Eyewitness News Political Analyst Joe Flemming said Raimondo focused on the urban core of Rhode Island, which ultimately helped her win the race.
“They really worked on Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls and Woonsocket and guess what? She won those four communities by a combined total of 20,000 votes. That was tough for Allan Fung to rebound from,” he said.
Raimondo will succeed incumbent Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who won office as an independent but later became a Democrat. Chafee decided not to run for re-election last year after struggling with low approval ratings throughout his term. Raimondo said Tuesday night she plans to meet with Chafee in the coming days to plan the transition.
The new governor will be inaugurated on Jan. 6.
View Allan Fung’s concession speech below: