PROVIDENCE — Based on first-quarter fundraising numbers, the 2022 contest for governor is shaping up as a horse race between two high-ranked Democrats: current Gov. Dan McKee and state General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.
Already a standout fundraiser, Magaziner raised more than McKee during this closely watched quarter — $302,210 — but not much more.
Magaziner’s haul included more than $12,000 from PACs — the shorthand for “political action committees” — many of them affiliated with construction trade unions. They included: the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Ironworkers union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Teamsters, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the R.I. Laborers’ Political League and the AFL-CIO.
But McKee came close, with $284,020 in contributions during the quarter that ran from Jan. 1 through March 31, the quarter when he ascended from lieutenant governor to governor.
By the end of March, McKee was drawing $1,000 contributions — the maximum allowed from any one individual — from State House lobbyists, owners of construction companies, lawyers, the top executives at the casino operating company formerly known as Twin River and others who, in some cases, had never contributed to him before.
That included $9,200 from the lawyers at a single law firm — Adler Pollock & Sheehan — that did more than $1.2 million in legal work for the state in 2020, on many fronts.
But Magaziner started with more and ended the quarter with more: $1,297,770.28 cash-on-hand, compared with the $451,367.72 that McKee had in his campaign account, according to their latest filings with the state Board of Elections.
The way Magaziner’s campaign adviser Katie Nee framed the first-quarter results: “This is Magaziner’s best quarter ever — by quite a bit, actually, and we expect to have a significant advantage over any other potential candidates.”
Gorbea, Elorza also in contention
McKee also has some catching up to do with others mentioned as potential 2022 candidates for governor, including Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, who are both term-limited.
Gorbea raised $158,852 during the quarter and had $546,538.62 left. Elorza raised $86,518 and had $955,313.43 left.
Both banked campaign contributions from some of the construction trade unions.
But Gorbea is the only potential candidate in the gubernatorial mix so far with a 2021 contribution — $500 — from the R.I. Federation of Teachers’ PAC, which has taken a lead role in fighting the expansion of the public-school options known as charters.
Gorbea has not taken a public stand on the issue.
McKee, by contrast, is a long-standing advocate of charter schools and an outspoken opponent of the union-backed “moratorium” on charter-school growth favored by a number of legislators.
“Parents in Pawtucket, Central Falls, Providence and Woonsocket in particular — who know their children will have a better chance in a public charter school — do not deserve to have the door of opportunity slammed in their face by the state,” McKee said in March, soon after taking the reins from former Gov. Gina Raimondo.
The state’s new lieutenant governor, Sabina Matos, had $240,503.05 in her campaign account after raising $28,895 before — and after — her rise from Providence City Council president to McKee’s pick for the No. 2 spot he left to become governor.
House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi ended the quarter with $1,165,531.26 in his campaign account, after a mostly quiet quarter on the fundraising front.
Raimondo’s last spending as governor
Raimondo left $608,044.68 behind in her campaign account, after spending $48,800 in the weeks leading up to, and following, her March 2 midterm resignation to become U.S. commerce secretary.
That included the $5,204 paid to the RDW political consulting group on the day she left office, leaving a glittery tribute to her years in office behind; more than $5,300 paid on March 16 to Lowe’s Hardware and $15,916.40 in two dollops to Perkins Coie, the law firm that defended her against conflict-of-interest allegations before the R.I. Ethics Commission.
Since Jan. 1, 2020, Raimondo has paid the firm: $75,402.60 for its legal work on her behalf.
As of March 31, former House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello had $21,410.63 in his account after paying a handful of hefty bills, including $6,000 to mail ballot consultant Edward Cotugno at Winning Ways, $1,068 to Lawton Moving and Storage, and $1,382.40 to Pranzi Catering.