PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With just one week left before Rhode Islanders go to the polls, four Democrats vying to be the state’s next governor faced off Tuesday night in their final televised debate ahead of the primary election.
Incumbent Gov. Dan McKee, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes and former Secretary of State Matt Brown made their cases and traded barbs during a one-hour event that aired live on WPRI 12 from Rhode Island College.
Moderators Tim White and Ted Nesi pressed the candidates on issues including Monday’s severe flooding, the proposed Pawtucket soccer stadium, abortion, the economy, the FBI ILO investigation and more. The primary is Sept. 13, and the Democratic nominee will face the winner of the Republican primary between Ashley Kalus and Jonathan Riccitelli.
In the videos below, you can watch some of the key exchanges during the debate. The full one-hour video is also available here.
Labor Day Flash Flooding
On Monday, the state was hit with torrential downpours that flooded a number of major roadways including I-95 and Route 10. McKee defended his administration’s handling of the situation, while his challengers gave their take on it.
Rhode Island’s economy
The four candidates listed what they thought is the top issue right now in Rhode Island. For Foulkes, it was small business, while Gorbea said the housing crisis, Brown said people not having enough money to get by, and McKee said jobs.
Campaign trail criticisms
Each of the candidates answered questions on criticisms they’ve faced over the course of the campaign. McKee was asked about the ILO Group contract controversy that’s under federal investigation, while Brown defended his attacks on McKee regarding that topic. Foulkes then explained a controversial comment on employee layoffs while she was the head of Hudson’s Bay Company, and lastly, Gorbea discussed her response to a recent voting machine mishap with some Spanish-language ballots.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade back in June, the candidates answered questions and offered their stances on abortion policy.
Rapid fire questions/pop quiz
After answering a series of questions on various topics, the candidates were then quizzed on some facts and figures the governor should know.
Tidewater Landing project
McKee defended his support for the project, having given the tiebreaking vote to provide $27 million in state funding to build a waterfront soccer stadium in Pawtucket. The other three candidates said they would’ve voted against it.
Each candidate was given one minute to make a final pitch to voters.
Prior to our debate, a number of protestors demonstrated in support of gubernatorial candidate Luis Daniel Muñoz.
Muñoz was not included in the debate because he did not meet the criteria established by our parent company Nexstar Media. It requires that a candidate receives at least 5% support in an independent poll and also reports at least $50,000 in campaign fundraising.
12 News did feature Muñoz in our Community Focus segment earlier in the campaign as part an effort to educate voters about the stance of various candidates.