Rhode Island’s 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate, John Robitaille, on Tuesday endorsed Ken Block, one of the two Republicans running for governor in the primary next Tuesday. The other Republican, Allan Fung, rolled out his own support from former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Robitaille came close to beating Lincoln Chafee in the 2010 race for governor. Some Republicans blamed Block for costing Robitaille the election by winning 6.5 percent of the vote as a Moderate Party candidate that year, although Robitaille has rejected that view. He says what matters is who has the best ideas, and Roitaille is now putting his support behind Block.
“Right now, in Rhode Island, we need someone who understands the economy, who understands business, and who will work hard to create a business-friendly state," Robitaille said during a news conference in front of the Statehouse. "I’ve looked through Ken’s plan. It’s a great plan, and I think with his determination, he will make that happen if elected governor.”
In a recorded message, Romney calls Fung a proven leader who will challenge special interests and shake up the status quo. Fung also has the support of former GOP governor Lincoln Almond.
In response to questions from reporters, Robitaille says Fung didn't help him with his own run in 2010. Fung says he attended a pro-Robitaille rally that year, and the Cranston mayor says talked up the Republican candidate as he spoke with local voters that year.
The two Republicans are set to square off during a Tuesday night debate sponsored by the Providence Journal and WPRI-TV, and during a Wednesday afternoon debate sponsored by WJAR-TV and Rhode Island Public Radio.