Anchor Staff Writer
Providing Gina Raimondo’s confirmation as Secretary of Commerce for President Biden, Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee will become the Governor of Rhode Island. McKee has chosen, after some of controversy, an open and transparent process documenting the search for a new Lieutenant Governor. At first, McKee wasn’t going to release the list of applicants for the position. However, after pressure from Target 12, which was followed by a complaint filed by them with the Attorney General’s office that cited McKee was not complying with the state’s Access to Public Records Act, the list was released.
After the list of applicants was released, it showed that over 50 people have expressed their interest in being appointed to that position. Some notable names on the list are: Chair of the Cranston Democratic City Committee Maria Bucci, 2020 Congressional Candidate Dylan Conley, Channel 12 News Weatherman T.J. Del Santo (who has since withdrawn his application), Former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, State Senator Louis DiPalma, Providence City Council President Sabina Matos, State Representative Anastasia Williams, State Representative Grace Diaz, Former State Senator and current Municipal Court Judge Donna Nesselbush, and Former State Representative Aaron Regunberg, who ran against McKee in the 2018 Lieutenant Gubernatorial primary election.
Among all the applicants, there are also some Republicans who have shown interest, like Cranston City Council Vice President, Ed Brady. Brady’s application was sent after the initial list was released, but he confirms that it will be taken into consideration with all the other applications. The effort for McKee to promote bipartisanship by selecting a Republican has been supported by Cranston City Council President Chris Paplauskas, Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins, and Cranston Citywide Councilwoman Nicole Renzulli, all Republicans. While it is unlikely that McKee would select a Republican, anything is possible given the added elements of transparency and fairness in this selection process.
The position of Lieutenant Governor is popular since politicians are able to move up Rhode Island’s political food chain. McKee and the next Lieutenant Governor, if elected to serve two terms after serving out the remainders of McKee and Governor Raimondo’s 2018-22 terms, can end up being in office for close to 10 years. That isn’t a guarantee, but the odds would be in their favor.
The landscape for the 2022 Gubernatorial, Lieutenant Gubernatorial, and Providence Mayoral elections could change depending on who McKee selects. If Matos is picked, then the Providence 2022 Mayoral election changes as she is speculated to be running for the open Mayoral seat due to her being term-limited in the City Council. If Regunberg or someone who is more Progressive is selected, then there could be a lot of disagreements that could affect McKee’s chances at re-election in what will be a packed primary against Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. If Diossa is selected, his re-election chances are up in the air versus Regunberg who came within 2,500 votes versus McKee in 2018. If McKee selects someone who matches his ideology such as DiPalma, then they both could either help or hurt each other’s re-election odds depending on how they handle vaccine distribution and the safe reopening of the state.
While it is uncertain when McKee will get to select his successor due to Raimondo’s confirmation being held up by a combination of Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) hold and the impeachment of Former President Donald Trump, the competition to be McKee’s Lieutenant Governor is very clear.