Around 8:45 last Wednesday night, Mayor Allan Fung’s gubernatorial campaign press secretary, Andrew Augustus, made a beeline through the Imperial room at Rhodes repeating the same phrase over and over: “Morgan conceded.”
He was referring to Republican gubernatorial candidate Patricia Morgan, and as he made his way around the room between supporters of Fung and the large group of press there to cover the event, the crowd became lively, producing cheers and applause when Fung made his way out from a more secluded area to make his primary winning speech.
Fung ended up winning 56.4 percent of the vote, tallying 18,661 of the 33,086 votes cast by registered Republicans, according to the board of election’s most up-to-date unofficial numbers. In Cranston, he won over 82 percent of the vote, dominating Rep. Patricia Morgan and businessman Giovanni Feroce in Fung’s mayoral city.
Gov. Gina Raimondo, who like Fung was expected to carry her party’s candidacy in the election, fared slightly better in her primary, winning 57.2 percent of the 117, 875 Democrat votes cast.
Fung now heads towards a rematch with Raimondo in the general election, and since the primary concluded both have been on the offensive, with Fung bolstering his campaign by hiring a Chief Operating Officer, John Pagliarini, and Raimondo traveling across the state to showcase business developments.
On primary night, Fung was all smiles as he emerged victorious, and his main message during his acceptance speech was one that positioned him as the best alternative to Raimondo, saying that he was the right candidate to “lead this revolution to take back our state.”
“We’re only seven weeks away from bringing fundamental and massive reform to Smith Hill,” Fung told supporters during his speech. “Seven weeks from reversing the horrific incompetence of the Raimondo administration that has failed our seniors and our most vulnerable children alike. The time is now to raise up our citizens across the state who have been left behind and forgotten. We’re saying enough is enough.”
His attacks on Raimondo made sure to encompass the entire state, as he chided her on highway traffic problems, the “UHIP debacle,” the power plant development in Burrillville, fisheries in Galilee being “destroyed,” and overall what he deemed a slow movement from the state when addressing problems.
In addition, Fung positioned himself as a proven leader, having been the Mayor of Cranston for more than ten years.
“I’ve led a city out of its dark days and turned it into one of the best places to live in America, and one of the best places to raise a child, our next generation,” he said. “Now, I want to do this for the rest of Rhode Island.”
In Cranston, Fung winning the governor’s seat would mean a new mayor to finish out his current term, set to end in two years. For 90 days after Fung were to leave the office, current City Council President Michael Farina, who was there Wednesday night to support Fung, would become interim mayor. After that, there’d be a special election to determine who the mayor would be up until the next election, in 2020.
Farina, who is running for his fourth citywide Council term in Cranston, called himself a “fiscal conservative and social liberal,” and said that Fung was the reason he moved from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.
“I met with Allan, I told him I thought the Democrats were more about advancing their own cause, and he said if you want you can join us, and I said sure,” Farina said at the event. “I have friends on both sides of the aisle now.”
Farina said he supported Fung in his last bid for governor and would do so again this time. Farina also said he thought primary day was a good one in Cranston, though voter turnout “was a little lower than expected,” which he thought was because the “only race that really mattered was the Governor’s.”
Farina said that he thought the big local issues going into this year’s election include infrastructure upkeep, fixing the school buildings, and partnering with the school dept. to continue collaborating on school safety ideas. He said that as Council President he has “given everyone a seat at the table,” and tried to hear out any good idea, no matter who it’s come from.
“We haven’t made it about politics,” he said. “If [Councilman Steve] Stycos has a good idea, it doesn’t matter that it’s coming from Steve and he’s running against me. I don’t like the old way of doing things.”
Farina said that he’s “burning the shoe leather” right now while trying to talk with people around the city, and wants to hear everybody’s opinion on the issues, no matter if they support him or not.
As Farina focuses on his Cranston candidacy, Mayor Fung, who had $387, 990 in his campaign war chest as of the primary filings compared to Raimondo’s $3,106,434, will look to be elected the next Governor of Rhode Island.