Rhode Island’s 2022 Gubernatorial election is one year out from the September primary. This still hasn’t stopped the escalating interest from political analysts, journalists and even the voters themselves just one year away from voters heading to the polls in the statewide primary.
Aside from the incumbent, Governor Dan McKee, there are already three Democratic candidates who have launched their campaigns: Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz. There is also another candidate who is expected to announce in late 2021: Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, who is term-limited in 2022 and has indicated interest in running for Governor. One speculated candidate on the Democratic side, Former Secretary of State Matt Brown, has been quiet about a 2022 bid. Despite this, he is listed under ‘RI-Gov 2022’ on ActBlue, a Democratic online fundraising software, on the same page with Gorbea, McKee and Muñoz. Another potential candidate who has been quiet about a Gubernatorial bid is Helena Foulkes, a former CVS Executive.
Paul Rianna Jr., who is a CNA at Fatima Hospital, has also launched a 2022 Gubernatorial bid as an Independent.
The Republican primary is a newsworthy story itself. Former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who is frequently asked if he will run for Governor a third time, is now being speculated as a potential candidate for General Treasurer.
Rhode Island GOP Chairwoman Sue Cienki has said that there will be a candidate for Governor and it is someone who is currently in an elected office. This rules out another Former Mayor of Cranston, Steve Laffey, who thought of coming back to Rhode Island to run for Governor not too long ago.
Ken Block has also been discussed as a potential Gubernatorial candidate. However, he isn’t the candidate Cienki is referring to, even saying on Twitter to Raymond Baccari about a potential Gubernatorial bid that, “The ultimate question is: is the prize worth the price? That is a very difficult question at this specific point in time, and one I have no answer to yet. The job will be more crisis than vision for quite some time.”
This leaves a potential Republican candidate that fits Cienki’s description who has also been in discussions regarding potential Republican Gubernatorial candidates: House Minority Leader Blake Filippi (R-Dist. 36). Part of Filippi’s district represents Block Island that usually votes Democrat, so this could result in a loss of a seat in the State House for the Republicans if Filippi runs. Since it will be a Republican in office currently, it could be anybody ranging from Cranston City Council President Chris Paplauskas to Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere (R-Dist. 38).
The issues that will be on voters’ minds will be completely different in a year’s time. Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic is still one of the top issues despite high vaccination numbers in the state. Other issues that are currently present in state politics are housing; the legalization of marijuana; charter schools; school choice; the state’s budget; mask and vaccine mandates; how the influx of federal money from the American Rescue Plan should be spent; etc.
Factionalization in both of the major parties is the true wildcard in this race. Whether it’s between Progressive and Moderate Democrats or Pro-Trump and Moderate Republicans, it was present in 2018, and will be more intense come 2022.
With all things considered, one year until votes are casted in the primary is still a long time for things to change dramatically in this race.