WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – Former state Rep. Joe Trillo, a veteran Republican who was one of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters locally, signaled Wednesday he is increasingly serious about jumping into the 2018 race for Rhode Island governor.
“I am giving serious consideration to running for governor of our fine state in 2018,” Trillo said in a statement. He also announced he will hold an event, titled “Exploring Rhode Island’s Future,” on the evening of June 27 at the Warwick Crowne Plaza.
“Partisan politics, campaigning and pandering on taxpayers’ time, while giving away our state’s dwindling resources to large, successful corporations is corporate welfare and not good government or sound management of taxpayer money,” he said. “Leaving our neediest to suffer, and our small businesses to struggle is unacceptable.”
He added: “Riding both sides of the fence for political gain is not what Rhode Island needs. I was the only Rhode Island elected official, including Republicans, to support Donald Trump in July of 2015.”
If he jumps into the race, Trillo is almost certain to face a Republican primary against Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, the party’s 2014 nominee, who is widely expected to seek a rematch against Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo. Former Alex + Ani CEO Gio Feroce and House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan have also suggested they might seek the GOP nomination.
Trillo, 74, represented Warwick in the General Assembly from 2001 to 2016, when he declined to seek re-election. He served for a time as House minority whip and was famous for his high-volume speeches on the House floor, often railing against progressive initiatives. He is president of an alarm company as well as a real-estate investor. He previously served as the state’s Republican national committeeman.
“Fiscal responsibility and sound judgment are sorely lacking in our state executive branch,” Trillo declared Tuesday, saying he is “uniquely poised” to work with lawmakers “to deliver high quality services correctly and efficiently to the hard-working taxpayers of Rhode Island.”
Bill Lynch, a special adviser to the R.I. Democratic Party, dismissed Trillo’s announcement.
“Like Mayor Fung, this is another Trump-loving Republican who would rather give tax breaks to millionaires than level the playing field for hardworking Rhode Islanders,” he said. “Mayor Fung and former state Rep. Trillo will surely have a spirited primary debate about who loves President Trump’s agenda more.”