Democratic Gov. Raimondo wins 2nd term in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE (AP) — Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, who made the case for a second term by telling voters she could continue Rhode Island's economic momentum, was re-elected Tuesday, beating back a challenge from Allan Fung, the Republican mayor of Cranston.

Raimondo, the state's first female governor, campaigned on a promise to cement Rhode Island's momentum. She told voters that she has been bringing change and that she needs more time to finish the job.

That message resonated in Fung's home city of Cranston, where, a 21-year-old unaffiliated voter Marcella Mazzenga said she voted for Raimondo because of her efforts to strengthen the state's gun laws and in the wake of the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla., and other recent mass shootings.

Mazzenga, who took the train down from Boston University, where she is a senior, to vote on Tuesday, said she felt Fung simply didn't offer satisfactory solutions to the national epidemic.

"Making students feel safe is a huge part of it, but there has to be active policy as well," she said. "We can't just have more of the community's protectors at the schools."

Raimondo said Fung and independent Joe Trillo would take the state backward. She raised more and outspent them by a large margin.

Fung, leader of the state's second-largest city, tried to portray Raimondo as incompetent and lobbed attacks at her record. He focused on the disastrous rollout of a public benefits computer system.

Raimondo decided to go ahead with the launch of the system in 2016 even after a warning from federal officials that it wasn't ready. Raimondo said during the campaign that the system "has turned a corner."

Fung wanted to lower the sales tax and slash business fees and taxes. He also lost to Raimondo in a three-way race in 2014.

Trillo is a former Republican state lawmaker who chaired President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign in Rhode Island. He left the party to run as an independent but still earned the support of some high-profile Republicans. One Republican's endorsement of Trillo prompted the state GOP chairman to complain that Trillo was helping Raimondo get re-elected.

Raimondo wants to continue offering tax credits and incentives to attract companies to Rhode Island and expand the state's free college tuition program so it's offered at the three public colleges. Currently it's offered at just one. She says she'll seek to expand job training programs she started and make larger investments in helping small businesses.

In Cranston, Yinka Folami, a public school teacher and registered Democrat, said she's hopeful of Raimondo's efforts to invest in public education, such as the proposed $250 million bond for school repairs that's also on this year's ballot that the governor has championed.

"Education is one way for people to rise out of poverty and make something of themselves," said Folami.

Rhode Island's unemployment rate recently reached its lowest point in nearly 30 years. The number of jobs based in Rhode Island exceeded 500,000 for the first time in the state's history in May.

The jobless rate in Rhode Island was one of the worst in the nation during the recession, reaching peaks of more than 11 percent from 2009 to 2011.


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