Raimondo re-election campaign fund tops $2M

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has stockpiled more than $2 million to put toward her 2018 re-election bid, with a year and a half still to go before voters head to the polls.

In a Board of Elections filing, Raimondo’s campaign said the first-term governor raised $565,000 and spent $166,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31, leaving her with $2.2 million on hand. The governor filed the report 25 minutes before the midnight deadline to do so.

Raimondo continues to demonstrate a fundraising prowess rarely seen in Rhode Island politics, having raised nearly $3 million since becoming governor and millions more before that when she was general treasurer. The state’s last two-term governor, Republican Don Carcieri, had about $275,000 on hand at the same point during his third year in office.

Much of the money Raimondo spent during the quarter – nearly $78,000 – went to Expedition Strategies, the firm launched last year by her longtime pollster Peter Brodnitz, who used to work at Benenson Strategy Group. She also spent big money on travel and catering for receptions.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican widely expected to seek the GOP nomination for governor in 2018, reported $79,000 on hand as of March 31. Other Republicans considering a run include former state Rep. Joe Trillo and former Alex + Ani CEO Gio Feroce.

Rhode Island’s all-Democratic congressional delegation also recently updated their campaign finance numbers. As of March 31, U.S. Sen Jack Reed had $1.57 million, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse had $1.77 million, Congressman Jim Langevin had $682,000, and Congressman David Cicilline had $833,000.

Whitehouse is up for re-election next year and has already drawn two potential Republican opponents, state Rep. Bobby Nardolillo and former R.I. Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders. Both have registered with the Federal Election Commission but neither one has had to file his first campaign-finance report.

Among Rhode Island’s other statewide general officers, all Democrats, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner had $310,000 in his campaign account as of March 31, while Lt. Gov. Dan McKee had $68,000, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea had $67,000 and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin had $30,000, their filings showed.

In the General Assembly, Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello had $245,000 as of March 31, while Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio had $108,000. Teresa Paiva Weed, whom Ruggerio succeeded in March, still has $66,000 in her account.

Many top elected officials also have their own separate political action committees, or PACs, that can accept additional donations.

At the state level, Raimondo’s Gina PAC saw little activity in the quarter, finishing with $32,000. Mattiello’s Fund for Democratic Leadership PAC was also basically dormant, finishing with $17,000.

The RI Senate Leadership PAC, control of which Paiva Weed transferred to Senate Majority Leader Mike McCaffrey and Ruggerio in March, finished with $7,000. The RI Senate Democrats PAC, of which Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin replaced Ruggerio as chair in March, finished with $22,000.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook