Not only could Rhode Island have its first female governor in Gina Raimondo by 2015, there could also be more women than men in statewide offices.
The general election ballot will feature three women – two Democrats and one Republican – running for five statewide offices. The treasurer and attorney general contests feature four male candidates.
“There’s the potential for a majority of women holding statewide offices,” said Carolyn Mark, the president of Rhode Island National Organization of Women. “That’s huge.”
For governor, Democrat Raimondo is facing Republican Allan Fung. In the lt. governor’s race Republican Catherine Taylor is running against Democrat Dan McKee. And the woman with perhaps the easiest path to victory is Democrat Nellie Gorbea, who after upsetting Guillaume de Ramel, will now face Republican John Carlevale in the general election.
Kara Russo was the only woman who lost on primary night, and she lost to Taylor. RI NOW endorsed Frank Ferri for lt governor, but Mark said the organization is open to reconsidering now that he is out of the race.
“We welcome the opportunity to talk to [Taylor] about that,” Mark said.
In 2010, there were three women were on the primary ballot for statewide offices – Lt Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, Raimondo and Taylor. Both Roberts and Raimondo won in the primary and general election. In 2006, Roberts and Republican Sue Stenhouse, running for secretary of state, won in their primaries. Roberts beat Kerry King and Stenhouse lost to Ralph Mollis in the general election. In 2002, the Board of Elections website says Myrth York, a Democrat who ran for governor against Don Carcieri, was the only female candidate to run in a primary. In 1998, two women ran for attorney general: Democrat Eva Mancuso and Republican Nancy Mayer. Both lost to Sheldon Whitehouse.
While Mark was pleased with the statewide results – RI NOW endorsed Raimondo and Gorbea – she said she Providence Rep. Maria Cimini’s primary loss was “tragic.”
“She is one of those exceptional people smart enough to understand the issues and empathetic to the struggles of everyday Rhode Islanders,” Mark said. “It’s not just a loss of a woman, it’s a loss of HER. And it’s not just a loss for her district, but it’s a loss for the entire state.”
Mark took issue with House Speaker Nick Mattiello targeting Cimini. “If you stand up to leadership, you not only have to duke it out on the House floor, but also in an election, too.”
Correction: An earlier version of this post indicated there were only two women on the 2010 primary ballots.