Rhode Island Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democrat whose overhaul of the Ocean State’s $7.6 billion employee retirement system drew national attention, said she will run for governor next year.
“It’s time,” Raimondo, 42, said in a video posted on the Internet today. “It’s time to finally turn the page in Rhode Island and finally tackle huge problems.”
Governor Lincoln Chafee, a 60-year-old Democrat who had previously been an independent and a Republican, decided not to seek a second term amid approval ratings in the low 20s.
Raimondo’s name has frequently been included in public polls for the office. A survey by Brown University from Oct. 2 to Oct. 5 showed her leading a Democratic field, with 42 percent of likely voters supporting her, compared with 34 percent siding with Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, 43, who joined the race in October. The poll had a 4.5 percentage-point margin of error.
A key issue will be how Raimondo handled changes to the state’s pension system, one of the nation’s worst-funded. In 2011, she led a revamp that included delaying retirement and offering workers 401(k)-type plans that don’t guarantee returns. Unions, a key constituency in a Democratic primary, are challenging Raimondo’s steps in court and have protested some of her public appearances.
In the five-minute video, Raimondo addressed some of those concerns and defended her record.
“I know pension reform was and still is a hard thing for many people, but it was harder still to think about what would have happened to those pensions if we didn’t save them,” Raimondo said in the video.
“It’s opened up the possibility that Rhode Island can make investments in schools and job creation, investments that would have been impossible even to think about three years ago.”
Raimondo graduated from Harvard University and Yale Law School before working at several venture-capital firms. Her experience in finance helped her woo Wall Street donors who’ve filled her campaign coffers. Raimondo’s campaign had $2.3 million as of Sept. 30, according to state records. Taveras had $760,000 on that date.
Rhode Island is among the nation’s most Democratic states, backing President Barack Obama in the 2012 election with 63 percent of the vote, his fourth-best percentage among the 50 states, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, 43, is running for the Republican nomination.
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