PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes stockpiled $1.3 million during the first three months of this year, her campaign said Thursday, an amount high enough to likely position her as the financial leader in the race.
Foulkes’ campaign said she raised about $900,000 in contributions from individuals during the first quarter, and additionally loaned her campaign another $400,000. The campaign also said “nearly half of the campaign’s donors were new donors,” though it did not say how much were in-state contributors.
“Every day our campaign gets stronger as Helena meets Rhode Islanders all across the state and shares her positive vision to transform our public schools, make it more affordable to live in Rhode Island and create great jobs for all,” Foulkes spokesperson Audrey Lucas said in a statement.
She added, “We are so grateful for the support we’ve received, which will allow us to get our message out to voters and position us to win this race.”
Lucas was not immediately able to provide an estimate for how much cash on hand the Foulkes campaign had as of March 31 once her quarterly expenses were subtracted from the new contributions.
The $1.3 million total for the first quarter means Foulkes, a former CVS Health executive and first-time political candidate, has now amassed more than $2.3 million since launching her campaign last fall. That includes an earlier personal loan, in that case for $100,000.
Foulkes is one of three Democrats challenging incumbent Democratic Gov. Dan McKee, who assumed office a year ago when Gina Raimondo stepped down to become U.S. commerce secretary. The other candidates are Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, former Secretary of State Matt Brown, and community activist Luis Daniel Muñoz. No public polling has been conducted in the race.
Candidates in Rhode Island are not required to file their next quarterly campaign-finance reports with the Board of Elections until May 2, and so far McKee’s campaign is the only other one that has given an early look at its fundraising so far in 2022.
Brexton Isaacs, the governor’s campaign manager, said earlier this month McKee raised more than $400,000 during the quarter, which he said was the most McKee has ever collected in a three-month span. He also said McKee received donations from all 39 of Rhode Island’s cities and towns.
McKee and Foulkes finished 2021 neck and neck in terms of campaign cash, with the governor on top at $844,000 and Foulkes close behind at $831,000. Gorbea was third, with $770,000, while Brown had $63,000 and Muñoz had $3,000.
While Foulkes is reporting she took in roughly three times more than McKee during the first quarter, the actual cash gap between the pair won’t be known until they also report how much they shelled out for expenses over the same period.
Foulkes could also benefit from the support of 4RI PAC, a newly formed super PAC that can collect unlimited contributions to support her candidacy but cannot coordinate directly with her campaign. McKee has the backing of the Democratic Governors Association, which supports the party’s incumbents, while Gorbea has been endorsed by Emily’s List, which promotes pro-choice Democratic women.
Separately this week, Foulkes released a new policy plan on Rhode Island’s housing crisis. Among other ideas, it calls for creating new tax credits to support affordable housing; pushing cities and towns to allow accessory dwelling units such as garage apartments; and allowing the conversion of single-family homes built before 1980 into multifamily structures.
The primary election is Sept. 13, almost exactly five months away.
On the Republican side, newcomer Ashley Kalus jumped into the gubernatorial race last month and quickly announced she would seed her campaign with a $500,000 loan.
Board of Elections filings show another individual, Rey Herrera, has also filed for governor as a Republican. Two others, Paul Rianna Jr. and Jonathan Riccitelli, have filed as independents.
The five Democratic candidates and Kalus are scheduled to meet on May 5 for a forum hosted by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council think tank and moderated by 12 News reporter Steph Machado.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook