Cranston Mayor Allan Fung moved a step closer to capturing the Republican Party’s endorsement for governor, winning support from the RI GOP Nominating Committee at a meeting Thursday evening at party headquarters in Warwick.
Fung won 9 of the 14 votes on the committee, which makes recommendations for next week’s Republican State Convention, which will convene June 26th at the Radisson Hotel in Warwick to make the endorsement. Fung also received the nod of the Hopkinton Republican Town Committee, bringing to 18 the number of city and town GOP committees to back the Cranston mayor.
The support gives Fung a leg up in the battle for institutional backing of the Republican Party in his primary bid against Barrington businessman Ken Block, a former gubernatorial candidate of the Moderate Party in 2010.
``I believe the mayor’s credentials as a solid Republican, his notable mayoral accomplishments, and his strong debate performance convinced the overwhelmingly majority of the committee members to recommend him for the endorsement,’’ said Steve Frias, the party’s national committeeman and chairman of the nominating panel.
While the party endorsement gives Fung momentum in his campaign against Block, it is not an indication of which candidate will win the September 9 primary. The last two Republicans elected governor – Lincoln Almond and Donald Carcieri – both won their first gubernatorial primaries without being endorsed.
In 1994, Almond defeated then-Congressman Ron Machtley, who carried the party endorsement, in the primary and went on to defeat Democratic Providence State Sen. Myrth York in the general election. In 2002, businessman Jim Bennett won the GOP gubernatorial endorsement, but lost the primary to Carcieri. Carcieri won the general election, also beating York.
Rhode Island Democrats have decided to remain neutral in the three-way governor contest among Clay Pell, state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. The Democratic State Committee will issue no gubernatorial endorsement, the same stance it took in 2002 when the primary candidates were York, Sheldon Whitehouse and Antonio Pires.