Everybody who writes or comments on Rhode Island politics is expressing shock and striving to process the fact that Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo took in $1.3 million in fundraising during the first three months of 2018. That’s a 40% increase in her cash on hand over a period of time during which polling data and the general temper of the people of the state suggest lackluster support for the governor (to put it mildly).
So what gives?
Spreadsheets available from the state Board of Election Campaign Finance Unit show that a significant majority of the governor’s donations come from out of the state: 60.5%, to be exact. Out-of-state donors tend to be more generous, too, with an average donation of $725, compared with $524 in state. In fact 63% of Raimondo’s out-of-state donors gave her campaign the maximum of $1,000 (with one Robert Clark of Saint Louis, MO, apparently giving an illegal $2,500 donation). This compares with 43% of in-state donations.
By contrast, Raimondo’s nearest Republican opponent, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, raised only 16% of his $191,460 first-quarter revenue out of state, with the average out-of-state donation amounting to $288. Just 16% of Fung’s out-of-state donors gave the maximum $1,000 (with none giving illegal contributions greater than that).
The question Rhode Islanders should be asking is: What do all of Raimondo’s generous out-of-state donors expect to get for their investments? Neither of the two possibilities that come to mind aren’t encouraging. Perhaps the donors want special deals from the governor’s office, using Rhode Islanders’ public resources. Or perhaps they’re using Rhode Island’s governorship — the chief executive office of a state that has been mired in stagnation and controversy for way too long — as a stepping stone for national political ambitions.
Either option suggests a state for sale whose people will either have to tuck their empty pockets back in or brush the footprints off each other’s backs when the governor’s done with us.