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RI Republican gubernatorial primary starting to take shape

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The race for governor in Rhode Island is getting more interesting, as three potential Republican candidates gear up to announce their intentions later this year.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who lost to Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo in 2014, reportedly told Tiverton Republicans on Wednesday that he’s planning to run. But the Republican declined to officially confirm his intentions Friday during an appearance on Eyewitness News This Morning.

“I’ll have an official announcement later this year,” Fung said. “I am definitely talking about it.”

Fung’s possible GOP rivals include state Rep. Patricia Morgan, who is the minority leader, and former state Rep. Joe Trillo, who served as the honorary state chairman for Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.

“Basically, I’m in,” Trillo told Eyewitness News on Friday. “It would take something major at this point to make me change direction.” Trillo, whose campaign account sits at $4,648, said he is starting to fundraise and will also self-fund part of his campaign.

Morgan, a West Warwick Republican, said she’ll be making a decision in the fall. She said she’s focused on raising enough money for a run, and said she commissioned a poll that put her on top, which was “very encouraging.” Her campaign account stands at $7,661 as of the most recent deadline.

Fung has the most cash on hand among the Republicans at $180,000. Raimondo, a Democrat, has a far larger war chest: $2.67 million.

Eyewitness News Political Analyst Joe Fleming said Friday the race is still wide open, with plenty of time for fundraising.

“It’s a very fluid race for governor at this point,” Fleming said. “Allan Fung’s making it pretty well-known that he is running, so he’s basically telling the other people if you want to run, you got to run against me and I’m starting early.”

Fleming said there is potential for a “Trump effect” in the primary, since Trump won the Republican presidential primary in 2016 in a landslide, also driving an unusually high turnout for the GOP primary race in a predominantly Democratic state.

“If Patty Morgan and Allan Fung run, they’ll have to be careful not to isolate too many of the Trump voters so that they all go to Trillo,” Fleming said.

A potential “wild card” is still possible, Fleming said, including from former Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who has indicated he would consider running. Fleming said if Chafee chooses to run as an independent, he could pull votes from Raimondo in the general election.
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