PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Incumbent Dan McKee has retaken the financial lead in the Democratic primary for governor, according to newly filed reports with the R.I. Board of Elections, as he and his challengers prepare to battle it out for the nomination over the next six weeks.
McKee — who took office last year when Gina Raimondo left for Washington — reported $1.2 million cash on hand in his campaign account as of June 30. He raised $281,583 during the second quarter and spent only $141,147. (He started airing TV ads in July.)
Brexton Isaacs, McKee’s campaign manager, said in a statement: “Rhode Islanders want to see more of the momentum that Governor McKee has delivered in his first year and a half in office – and the latest fundraising numbers are a strong indicator.”
He added, “With the most resources available of any campaign in these final six weeks, we look forward to highlighting the strong leadership Governor McKee has displayed for Rhode Islanders.”
Meanwhile, the financial leader among the Democrats back in March — Helena Foulkes, a former CVS executive and first-time candidate — has lost her cash advantage after spending money at a rapid clip.
Foulkes reported just $692,000 on hand as of June 30, despite taking in $546,000 during the spring. Her fundraising was far outpaced by her spending: the Foulkes campaign reported shelling out an eye-popping $1.36 million during the quarter.
Almost half of Foulkes’ spending — $637,000 — went to Canal Partners, the firm that is buying time for her TV commercials. Roughly $200,000 went to the consulting firm of longtime Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who is producing her ads. She also spent $110,000 with a Las Vegas-based firm called “Ocean State Research.”
Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea — who was the frontrunner in the last public poll of Democratic primary voters — edged out Foulkes to take second place in the financial sweepstakes. Gorbea’s campaign reported $786,000 cash on hand as of June 30, after taking in $270,000.
Earlier Monday, Gorbea’s campaign released a memo that summarized what it said were the results of its most recent internal polling. The survey, conducted in late July, found Gorbea on top at 27%, followed by McKee at 22% and Foulkes at 14%, with 22% of primary voters still undecided. (The entire poll wasn’t released.)
The other two Democratic candidates reported far less cash on hand as of June 30: former Secretary of State Matt Brown had $67,000, and community activist Luis Daniel Muñoz had less than $2,000.
A spokesperson said Ashley Kalus, the frontrunner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, would report $1.1 million cash on hand as of June 30 — another indication she should have the financial resources to compete with the winner of the Democratic primary come the fall.
Kalus raised only $77,000 during the quarter, the spokesperson said. She is mostly self-funding her campaign out of her personal wealth.
Another Republican, Jonathan Riccitelli, reported $226 on hand as of June 30. Independent Zachary Hurwitz had $200.
Here’s a look at the financial state of play in Rhode Island’s other major races this year.
Incumbent Democrat Sabina Matos, who was appointed lieutenant governor last year after McKee became governor, maintains a big financial lead against two primary challengers.
Matos had $316,000 on hand as of June 30. One of her Democratic opponents, state Rep. Deb Ruggiero, had $140,000. The other, state Sen. Cynthia Mendes, had $54,000.
The three Democrats clashed during their first TV debate last week on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers.
Among the Republicans, Aaron Guckian was far better-funded, with about $26,000 on hand as of June 30. His GOP opponent Paul Pence Jr. had $1,221. Another candidate, Ross McCurdy, reported a negligible amount in his campaign account.
Incumbent Democrat Peter Neronha, who is seeking a second term, heads into the fall campaign with a major financial edge.
Neronha’s campaign reported $331,281 cash on hand as of June 30, while his Republican challenger Chas Calenda reported just $22,560.
No other candidates for attorney general qualified to make the ballot.
Secretary of State
Incumbent Democrat Nellie Gorbea is barred by term limits from running again, opening up the secretary of state’s office for the first time since 2014.
State Rep. Gregg Amore, an East Providence Democrat, heads into the final months of the election well-positioned financially. Amore had $161,000 on hand as of June 30.
Amore’s newly announced Democratic primary opponent, Stephanie Beauté, has not yet had to file a finance report with the Board of Elections. Republican Pat Cortellessa, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018, reported $7,500 on hand as of June 30 thanks to a personal loan.
Incumbent Democrat Seth Magaziner is barred by term limits from running again, opening up the treasurer’s office for the first time since 2014.
Former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, the first Democrat to announce a bid for treasurer, had $205,000 on hand as of June 30. Former Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, who jumped into the race late, had $147,000 on hand.
However, Pryor outraised Diossa significantly during the quarter, taking in $155,000. Diossa pulled in $50,000 and loaned his campaign an additional $10,000.
Diossa and Pryor will meet for their first televised debate later this week on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers.
The Republican candidate for treasurer, James Lathrop, has not yet had to file a finance report.
Incumbent Democrat Jorge Elorza is retiring due to term limits, and three Democrats are vying to succeed him.
Brett Smiley continued to be a champion fundraiser in the second quarter, pulling in just over $300,000 during the spring, leaving him with $642,000 cash on hand as of June 30.
Another Democratic candidate, Nirva LaFortune, brought in a little over $50,000 to finish the quarter with $172,000 cash on hand. The third Democrat, Gonzalo Cuervo, still didn’t have a final report posted as of Tuesday morning.
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