Anchor Staff Writer
Out of all the local political news recently, the biggest has to be Lieutenant Governor McKee’s transition to become Governor. Once Governor Raimondo is confirmed as President Biden’s Commerce Secretary, the new Governor will be current Lieutenant Governor, Dan McKee. How different will a McKee administration be; what will be focused on as a number of issues in Rhode Island need to be addressed; and how could this affect the 2022 election are all questions that have put the spotlight on Lieutenant Governor McKee.
Issues like vaccine distribution and safely reopening the state are what many say should be the main focus. Recently, Lieutenant Governor McKee has called on teachers to be moved up on the list of who should be vaccinated next. That is just one of the multiple examples of disagreements between Lieutenant Governor McKee and Governor Raimondo that creates the question of what will be different once Governor Raimondo heads to Washington D.C.
Ideologically, McKee is seen as more moderate and not as close to unions when compared to other Rhode Island Democrats that in recent years have embraced more progressive policies. Issues like charter schools and small businesses have shown a clear factionalization in the Democratic party, but under a McKee administration, it will be even more clear as he has advocated for small businesses and charter schools in the past.
Aside from policy and statewide issues, another question is who will be the next Lieutenant Governor? This one has been met with disagreements since once Governor-in-waiting Dan McKee is sworn in, he will be able to select the new Lieutenant Governor. However, there have been calls by some state lawmakers that there should be either an election for the vacant office or the General Assembly should select the new Lieutenant Governor. Although, if the current precedent stays, many have called for McKee to select former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa. Other elected officials have also shown interest in the job like State Senator Louis DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton.)
Looking at the future, this could change the 2022 election in Rhode Island. If a McKee administration could effectively reopen the state safely while distributing the vaccine, then that gives an advantage for the Governor-in-waiting in terms of fundraising, name recognition and winning over voters in a potentially packed Democratic primary. The Lieutenant Gubernatorial election would then have an incumbent and depending on who it is could deter any possible plans for candidates like 2018 Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate Aaron Regunberg. Regunberg is currently exploring a potential 2022 bid for that office. The Gubernatorial election could now see less moderate Democrats like former Mayor of Providence Joseph Paolino and Congressman Jim Langevin from attempting to throw their hats in the race.
Could a McKee administration be better than Governor Raimondo’s? Will there be big changes in this state? How does this affect future elections and potential vacancies? Only time will tell, but right now the spotlight is on Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee.