The list of Rhode Island politicians seriously considering a run for governor in 2014 is getting longer.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, former candidate John Robitaille and Moderate Party founder Ken Block all suggested in interviews with WPRI.com Tuesday that they could make a bid for the state’s highest office.
They join three Democrats – Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and former Auditor General Ernie Almonte – on the list of individuals who may be on the ballot in 2014. (Almonte has already launched his campaign.) And of course there’s also incumbent Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent who says he expects to run for a second term.
Republican Fung, mayor of the state’s third-largest city, has a bigger campaign war chest than anyone else in the GOP and is running unopposed for a third term this November.
“It’s an honor to be considered in the discussion for that,” Fung said. “I’m privileged to be able to serve another four years, if I don’t stumble in some way between now and November. I am happy for now to be undertaking that third term for mayor, and who knows what the future will hold?”
He added: “I’m humbled that people are considering me and the work that I’ve done for any type of higher office.”
Robitaille lost the 2010 governor’s race to Chafee by just 8,660 votes and is widely expected to seek a rematch. He said he may put together an exploratory committee after this November’s election but wouldn’t go further than that. “It’s way too early,” he said.
Robitaille dismissed the idea that he’ll be at a disadvantage because he hasn’t begun raising money, unlike Raimondo, who is quickly approaching nearly $1 million in the bank. “It doesn’t matter to me how many people jump into this race and how much money they raise – that’s not going to scare me off if I want to run,” he said.
“You can’t spend $2 million in Rhode Island,” he added. “It’s a single media market. … Nobody pays attention, truthfully, until after Labor Day other than the policy wonks and people interested in politics.”
Robitaille also laid out a reason he might decide against running – if the General Assembly’s makeup stays largely the same this fall despite the state’s high unemployment rate and other problems. He said the state’s governor’s office is one of the weakest in the country.
Another Republican – Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian – wasn’t immediately available for comment. He is a potential candidate for lieutenant governor, though some Republicans remain bitter about his endorsement of Chafee over Robitaille two years ago.
The man many Republicans blame for Robitaille’s loss in 2010 – Moderate Party founder Ken Block – is another politician with no money in his campaign account who says he’s contemplating another run.
“I don’t know yet – I honest-to-God don’t know,” Block said. “It’s one of those things where it’s a family decision and it’s a professional decision. … I still have two young kids, so there’s some serious negotiations going on in the Block house right now.”
He added: “I would run it differently. … You can’t jump in in February of the year of the election.”
• Related: Taveras sees ‘an opportunity to think about’ gov run next year (Aug. 7)