Saying Gina Raimondo won’t win in the general election even if she prevails in the Democratic primary, her underdog rival Paul Roselli ended his outsider campaign for governor to support fellow progressive outsider Matt Brown instead.
“If Gina Raimondo wins the primary, Raimondo will lose the general election,” he said in a prepared statement released last night. “It is therefore imperative that the Democrats put forward an alternative candidate and in the interests of the party I am stepping aside from this race to give Matt Brown the best possible chance of winning the primary and thus giving the party the best chance of a win in the General Election.”
Roselli, a Burrillville resident best known as a leading voice against a proposed fossil fuel power plant there, said he will instead run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Paul Fogarty, explaining why in this video.
He was making his first foray into electoral politics as a candidate and he wasn’t expected to mount a serious challenge to Raimondo, an incumbent with a multi-million dollar campaign war chest. But while he raised the profile of both fossil fuel opposition and grassroots activism, his candidacy also complicated the path for Brown, a former secretary of state who ran a successful statewide outsider campaign in 2002 to win that office.
“Paul has elevated important issues in our state, and I hope we can work together in the coming weeks to build brighter future for Rhode Island,” Brown’s campaign said on Twitter.
“It’s an important part of unifying and solidifying what is a strong base of support for my campaign,” Brown said in an interview with RI Future. “The more we can bring people together and unify and grow the support the kinds of things I’ve been working on, the stronger we are going into the summer.”
Roselli said Raimondo “will lose” her bid for re-election, in the statement that highlighted to growing rift between some progressive activists and establishment-type Democrats.
“Let me be clear, Governor Raimondo cannot win in November,” he said. “If Governor Raimondo is the nominee the only outcome will be a Republican win and she could also have a negative impact on down-ballot races for the general assembly. Polling has already revealed our current Governor is one of the most unpopular incumbent Governors in the United States,” he said. “The Governor compounds this unpopularity by spending time outside of the state meeting wealthy donors whose ideals are incompatible with the health and wellbeing of Rhode Islanders. Time and time again that office has put the interests of corporate friends ahead of the needs of the people the Governor was elected to represent.”
Steve Racket, Roselli’s campaign manager, said in a subsequent email interview: “In short, the belief that Gina can’t win in November comes from a clear lack of enthusiasm for her and this is what Paul has picked up almost everywhere he has gone, amongst both those unaffiliated voters and Democrat supporters.”
He said, “The average of the two major polls this year in RI for the GE have Gina on 35.5% against Fung. (WPRI / RWU at 38% and Go Local / Harvard at 33%). Paul has been campaigning for six months across the state and the campaign picked up enough data to suggest that Gina Raimondo’s support is below what it was in 2014 amongst unaffiliated voters – and back to the polling released in 2018, for a Democratic governor to be so unpopular in a state where Trump also has a low rating suggests this is about the Governor’s record in the two statewide offices she has held. There will be a blue wave, but not for her and possibly not for other Democrats in down ballot Rhode Island, if usually solid Dem voters stay at home because they are put off by the person at the top of the ticket.”