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Rhode Island Has Selected Its GOP Gubernatorial Nominee. Can She Beat Nation's Most Unpopular Governor?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On Tuesday night, the last of the state primaries before the 2024 presidential primaries took place, Rhode Island was among those states to pick its nominees. This included the Republican gubernatorial nominee, but also the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, as incumbent Dan McKee faced a primary challenger, backed by  none other than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). 


The Republican nominee, Ashley Kalus, handily won, with 83.67 percent of the vote to Jonathan Riccitelli's 16.33 percent. 

The same cannot be said about McKee, whose race wasn't called in his favor until around 11:00pm, hours after the polls closed. Ultimately, McKee pulled off a win. With an estimated 97 percent of the vote, he has 32.82 percent of the vote to Helena Foulkes' 30.06 percent. 

"Rhode Island" was trending over Twitter on Tuesday night, in part due to how close McKee's race was. 

Local news outlet WRPI reported that the "McKee-Foulkes race ends in declined phone call on live TV," as McKee declined to accept a call from Foulkes when a staffer approached him to tell him she was on the phone. 

While the race is considered "Likely Democratic" by Sabato's Crystal Ball and "Solid Democratic" by Cook Political Report and Inside Elections, it can't be emphasized enough how unpopular McKee is. 

According to data released in July from Morning Consult, McKee is the least popular governor in the country, with a 43 percent disapproval rating. Meanwhile, just 38 percent approve.

McKee, who previously served as the lieutenant governor, became governor when former Gov. Gina Raimundo left office to become President Joe Biden's Secretary of Commerce. 


"Congratulations to our strong slate of Republican nominees, who are ready to hold Joe Biden accountable and clean up the mess Democrats have made in Providence. Suffering from skyrocketing prices and historic inflation, Election Day cannot come soon enough for RhodeIsland families and workers ready for relief from Democrats’ failed policies. In November, RhodeIslanders will give the pink slip to Democrats and elect Republicans like Allan Fung and Ashley Kalus for commonsense solutions," read a Tuesday night statement from RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. 

Allan Fung also won in an uncontested primary, for Rhode Island's more competitive 2nd Congressional District. He made headlines for entering the race in February. His race is regarded by Cook Political Report as a "Toss-Up," while Sabato's Crystal Ball and Inside Elections say it's "Lean Democratic."

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