By Dan McGowan
He hasn’t formally announced his plans for 2014, but Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee said he is still strongly considering becoming the first candidate to enter the lieutenant governor’s race.
“I continue to be focused on Cumberland issues like pension, OPEB, bond ratings, schools, etc., but I understand that state policy impacts our communities and see the lieutenant governor’s position as a spot that is positioned to influence policy that will positively impact our public schools, the fiscal health of our communities and Rhode Island’s business climate,” McKee told WPRI.com Monday.
McKee’s comments came following the launch of “Mayor’s for Marriage Equality,” a new coalition that supports legislation that would make Rhode Island the final state in the New England to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. The mayor said he is particularly interested in addressing the state’s stalled economy, which has limped out of the recession to post one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
McKee, who had just over $63,000 in his campaign war chest as of Dec. 2012, has made a name for himself in the state as an education leader, serving as chairman of Rhode Island Mayoral Academies. Despite his Wikipedia page, McKee said Blackstone Valley Prep, which serves students from Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln and Pawtucket, has outperformed traditional public schools on state standardized tests.
But McKee’s outspoken support for education reform—he supports the NECAP graduation requirement— means he’ll almost certainly have a union-backed opponent in a Democratic primary. To date, term-limited Secretary of State Ralph Mollis is the only other Democrat to have expressed interest in running for the office.