PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democrat Dan McKee has defeated Republican Ashley Kalus in the race for Rhode Island governor, 12 News projects, earning himself his first full term in office.
Kalus called McKee about an hour after polls closed to secede the race, as the governor was leading his political rival by double digits at the time.
Watch McKee’s victory speech in the video player above.
McKee, 71, became the first lieutenant governor to ascend to Rhode Island’s top job since 1950 when he took over for Gina Raimondo last year.
“Let’s make sure that we do what we need to do to bring this state to a level that we’ve never seen before because we have momentum like we’ve never seen before in this state,” McKee said. “We’re going to keep it, and we’re just getting started.”
The former Cumberland mayor campaigned on his record during a year and a half in office, touting low unemployment and a successful vaccination drive, as well as new spending in areas like housing.
Watch: Kalus gives concession speech (story continues below)
Kalus, 40, stormed onto the Rhode Island political scene this year and spent $4.7 million of her own money in an effort to win the governor’s office.
She moved to the state in 2021 after the McKee administration awarded her company a contract for COVID-19 testing and vaccination, after previously working for the governor of Illinois.
“I’m very proud of the race that we ran,” Kalus said. “Nobody like losing, it’s disappointing. But I’m so grateful for the support I’ve had.”
Three independent candidates were also on the ballot: Elijah Gizzarelli, Zachary Hurwitz and Paul Rianna Jr.