RI gov candidates spent more than $15M on race

The five candidates for Rhode Island governor who have spent money on TV ads are, left to right, Democrats Clay Pell, Gina Raimondo, Angel Taveras and Republicans Allan Fung and Ken Block.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The six major candidates for Rhode Island governor spent more than $15 million on their campaigns when all was said and done, according to a review of R.I. Board of Elections filings by WPRI.com.

The eight-figure grand total is more than twice as much as the $6.3 million spent by the state’s top four gubernatorial candidates in 2010, and likely ranks among the most expensive contests for state office ever in Rhode Island.

Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo spent the most by far, shelling out nearly $6.2 million from the start of 2013 through Monday to win the primary and then the general election, her filings showed. The Democrat and outgoing general treasurer spent nearly $5.4 million over just the last seven months.

Raimondo’s defeated Republican rival, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, spent $2.1 million from the start of 2013 through Monday to win the GOP primary but not the general election, his filings showed.

However, Fung actually outspent Raimondo slight during the September-through-November period that included the general election, when the Republican’s campaign spent $1.4 million and the Democrat’s campaign spent just under $1.3 million.

Raimondo, however, was boosted by the Rhode Island Democratic Party’s more than 12-to-1 spending advantage over the Rhode Island Republican Party during the latter half of the year. Much of the money went toward a coordinated campaign that aimed to draw out voters to support the party’s ticket.

Despite being the runner-up in the November election, however, Fung was not the second- or even third-biggest spender in this year’s gubernatorial race because of the extremely pricey Democratic primary.

Democrat Clay Pell, who placed third in the primary, spent $3.8 million from the time he opened his campaign account in October 2013 through Oct. 7, 2014, according to his filings. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who topped Pell to place second, spent $2.4 million from the start of 2013 through Oct. 7, 2014, his filings showed.

On the Republican side, Ken Block spent $949,365 from the start of 2013 through Oct. 7, 2014. While it’s unclear whether he outspent Fung because their filings cover different dates, Fung’s campaign spent $708,764 from the start of 2013 through Sept. 1, 2014.

And then there was Robert Healey, the Moderate Party nominee who stunned Rhode Island’s political world by taking 21% of the vote in the Nov. 4 election for governor. He reported spending $36.29 on his campaign.

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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