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Democrats win big in Rhode Island

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

Raymond Baccari


Image via Raymond Baccari

The 2022 election has come and gone, at least for Rhode Island. Nationally, Republicans expected a red wave that never made its way to the Ocean State, as Democrats won in all the statewide and federal races.

Gov. Dan McKee cruised to winning a first, full four-year term over Republican Ashley Kalus. McKee received 57.9% of the vote, while Kalus received 38.9%. Independent candidate Zachary Hurwitz earned 1.3%, while Libertarian Elijah Gizzarelli and independent Paul Rianna Jr. each ended up with less than 1% of the vote.

“Tonight let’s celebrate this victory, tomorrow let’s get to work,” McKee said to supporters at his victory party. “And let’s make sure that we do what we need to do to bring this state to a level that we’ve never seen before because we have momentum like we’ve never seen before in this state. And we’re going to keep it, and we’re just getting started.”

In his speech, the governor highlighted his record in areas such as increasing COVID-19 vaccinations, investing in creating affordable housing and bringing down the unemployment numbers. He also said that by 2030, Rhode Island will “meet or exceed Massachusetts levels on education.”

McKee is eligible to run for reelection in 2026, which if elected, would allow him to be governor until 2031.

The other marquee race in Rhode Island, Congressional District 2, saw Treasurer Seth Magaziner retain that seat for Democrats.

“I want to thank you all so much,” Magaziner said in his victory speech. “I have said from the beginning that this campaign is not about me. This campaign is about fighting for working people and bringing Rhode Island values to Washington, and thanks to you, that is exactly what we are going to do.”

The race was close, with Magaziner getting 50.4% of the votes to former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung’s 46.8%. William Gilbert, the Moderate party candidate, received 2.7% of the vote.

Magaziner’s first two-year term begins in January, when the 118th Congress is sworn in.

Other statewide races such as lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and general treasurer saw Democrats win every one.

Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos won her first, full four-year term with 51.2% of the vote to Republican Aaron Guckian’s 43.2%. Independent candidate, Ross McCurdy, received 5.5% of the vote. There is also a Rhode Island College connection to this specific race. All three candidates on the ballot are alumni of the college. Similar to McKee, Matos can run for two four-year terms since she was serving the remainder of her predecessor’s term.

For the open general treasurer race, former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa won with 54.3% over Republican James Lathrop, who got 45.5% of the vote. Magaziner, the current treasurer, was term-limited.

Attorney General Peter Neronha won reelection with the highest percentage of the vote out of all five statewide races: 61.5%. His opponent, Republican Charles Calenda, earned 38.4% of the vote. The office will have no incumbent on the ballot in 2026’s election.

State Rep. Gregg Amore won comfortably in the open race for secretary of state. Amore received 59.5% of the vote, while Republican Pat Cortellessa received 40.3%. Current secretary of state, Nellie Gorbea, was term-limited.

All three of the statewide ballot measures won with double-digit margins. Several municipalities had their own ballot initiatives and charter change proposals, too. Starting in 2025, Warwick’s mayor is limited to two four-year terms, while city council members are limited to six two-year terms. In Providence, starting in 2024’s election, half of the city’s School Board’s members will be elected in non-partisan elections. That charter change overwhelmingly passed with 72.4% of the vote.

In the General Assembly elections, any Republican gains were offset by Democratic gains. Senate District 29 and House District 53 were flips from Democrat to Republican. House District 36, House District 39 and Senate District 38 were Democratic flips. House District 36 was held by Republican House Minority Leader Blake Filippi, and Senate District 38 was held by Republican Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere.

One independent candidate flipped a General Assembly seat. Independent Jon Brien, who was formerly a Democrat and state Rep. for House District 50, flipped the open House District 49 seat versus Democrat Glenn Dusablon by 45 votes.

A few of the General Assembly seats were very close. In House District 39, Democrat Megan Cotter is currently up by 29 votes. And in House District 21, state Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson is up by 33 votes.

Update: A prior version of this article contained different vote counts and percentages. Since publication, more ballots have come in and shifted differences in votes between candidates.


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