The Rhode Island GOP now has a candidate for Governor. Ashley Kalus launched her campaign for the state’s highest office on Tuesday.
“Ask yourself: who has Rhode Island been changing for? Every day gets harder for working families," Kalus said in a video announcing her candidacy.
“We’re getting killed at the pump, food prices are soaring, it costs more to heat our home, income is not matching inflation, the dream of owning a home is out of reach for many, and we pay more for health care and get less. As a mom of three school-aged boys, I understand these struggles.”
Education is a big part of Kalus’s campaign platform. An educational reform she supports is school choice – a signature issue on the Rhode Island GOP’s platform. The economy, health care, infrastructure and tackling the opioid crisis are other key priorities of hers.
This is the first time Kalus is running for office in Rhode Island. Before moving here last year – Kalus worked for then-Republican Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois. She is an executive with Doctors Test Center – who has contracts with Rhode Island to supply COVID-19 vaccines and testing throughout the state.
Critics quickly jumped to reference Kalus’s recent move to Rhode Island and attempted to brand her as an extreme Republican.
“She worked on the campaign and in the office of former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who notoriously tanked Illinois’ budget, public programs, and state finances,” said the Democratic Governors Association in a statement.
“In fact, Kalus only moved to Rhode Island last year and is still listed as having an active voter registration in Florida, with no party affiliation. The thing that’s clear is she wants to bring the most extreme GOP agenda to Rhode Island.”
Kalus enters a GOP primary with no other major candidates. Previously, House Minority Leader Blake Filippi and Former Turnpike and Bridge Authority Chairman David Darlington considered runs for Governor. Filippi is running for re-election in State House District 36, and Darlington dropped out of the race before Kalus' announcement. The only other Republican running is Rey Alberto Herrera. Herrera started his campaign as an Independent, but now is running as a Republican.
The last time Rhode Island elected a Republican Governor was then-Governor Don Carcieri’s 2006 re-election bid. Republicans start off with an uphill battle for the Governor’s race. Despite this, 2022 may be the year for the GOP with a potential red wave and President Biden’s low approval rating being in Kalus’ favor.