Fung, Frias fall short to Democratic adversaries

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Although their campaigns were never short on confidence, the nervous energy was apparent at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick on Tuesday evening as a mid-sized crowd of supporters for Rhode Island Republican candidates awaited polling results to pour in throughout the state.

Neither Allan Fung, taking a second run at governor against Gina Raimondo, nor Steven Frias, who was vying for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s Representative District 15 seat, made appearances until it became readily apparent that both their bids would be falling short. Fung lost handily by about 14 percent to Raimondo, and Frias was narrowly edged by Mattiello by less than 200 votes.

Despite the disappointment, Fung was gracious and strong in his concession speech – thanking his supporters, family and volunteers for the hard work they put in to promote their idea for a better Rhode Island.

“It's not easy to take on a machine, but we had the courage and the vision to bring the right kind of change to Rhode Island and speak our mind for all of you,” Fung said to the crowd. “And I'm damn proud of that fact.”

The crowd of supporters, likewise, took the bad news in stride. While some rushed for the doors, too upset to continue residing in a sullen place that was supposed to become a victory party, and some sat silently with hands covering their faces, most cheered on Fung throughout his concession speech and stuck around to mingle.

For the second time in four years, Fung couldn’t get over the hill to topple Raimondo from her seat. However, what was expected to possibly play a role in that – the candidacy of Joe Trillo, the former Republican Trump state campaign chairman turned independent whom Fung had accused of being in cahoots with Raimondo to steal votes from him – only snatched about 4.5 percent of the vote, not enough to make up the ground for Fung even had Trillo bowed out or not ran at all.

Fung handily won the support of his mayoral home, Cranston, along with smaller communities like Coventry, Johnston and Smithfield. However, Raimondo won by wide margins in all of the larger municipalities in Rhode Island outside Cranston, including a 20,000-vote shellacking in Providence over Fung, which bolstered her numbers.

Fung had campaigned hard since he announced, over a year ago, that he would once again be seeking the seat he lost by about 14,000 votes (4.5 percent) in 2014. There was another so-called spoiler in that race too – the late Robert Healey, the “Cool Moose” candidate who garnered nearly 70,000 votes through a social media campaign that cost fractions of pennies compared to the large amounts of money raised and spent by Raimondo and Fung.

This time around, the incumbent Raimondo once again had a clear advantage in fundraising, spending over $6.5 million as of the last campaign finance reporting period, which ended on Oct. 29, with about $456,000 remaining in her fund balance and no notable liabilities from self-funded loans.

That amounted to three times as much taken from the war chest as Fung, who spent around $2.1 million throughout that same time period. In the last 20-day reporting period, Raimondo spent over $1 million in campaign expenses, while Fung spent close to $800,000. Fung was left with around $137,000 left in his campaign balance as of the final pre-election report.

On the campaign trail, Fung was candid about his disapproval of numerous management decisions made by Raimondo. Primarily, the state’s flawed overhauling of its food stamp database, known as UHIP, drew constant criticism from Fung, as did numerous high-level appointments made by Raimondo for departments such as DOT, DHS and DCYF – all of which he argued resulted in enormous cost to Rhode Islanders and, in the case of DCYF, the loss of the lives of children who weren’t given proper care.

Fung likened Raimondo’s pension reform as though she, “basically took away grandma's COLA and gave it to her friends on Wall Street,” through one of his charged press releases, which were nearly everyday occurrences during the heat of campaign season. Other releases hit Raimondo on perceived incompetence, like abruptly stopping road construction projects and on the economy, which Fung has warned is in much worse condition than Raimondo is letting on.

Campaigning on a small business platform – a platform very much a part of his political foundation, coming from a family who started out running a Chinese restaurant following their emigration to the U.S. – Fung had promised to lessen tax and fee burdens on Rhode Island small business and end the practice of providing tax incentives to conglomerate corporations, a tactic he criticized Raimondo for as “selling out” to corporate interests rather than helping real Rhode Islanders. Fung also vowed to curb waste within state government.

However, despite the consistent attacks against Raimondo throughout the campaign, Fung was gracious in defeat on Tuesday evening.

“She drove out that vote, and it's not easy,” he said after taking a moment to congratulate her on the victory.

Despite the endorsements of many municipal GOP groups, former Governor Lincoln Almond and the Cranston and State Police unions, in addition to a healthy smattering of Republican state representatives and aspiring representatives – including Frias – it wasn’t enough in the end to win a state comprised primarily of Democratic voters.

“We have to make sure that this Rhode Island is a Rhode Island that we all know is possible. One where there is transparency, prudent stewardship of the taxpayer dollars and effective management of the public's resources…Despite tonight's loss – and it hurts...we still have to work together to put our state on the right track.”

“Public service has never been a job for me. It's more to me than that. It has been my calling,” Fung continued. “And it has been a privilege for me to serve as the mayor of Cranston, our state's second largest city, and an even greater privilege to be your Republican nominee for Governor. I'm never going to forget your support.”

Frias falls just short

As rain fell late Tuesday afternoon outside Hope Highlands School in Cranston, both Frias and Mattiello carried umbrellas and asked those rushing in to cast their votes to please consider them. Both had positive reads on how they thought the results would turn out.

“I’m feeling better than last time,” Frias said of his 2016 bid for the House of Representatives seat that has become the most watched of local elections. Last time around, Frias was 85 votes shy of beating Mattiello. In fact, Frias beat Mattiello on the machine count, but even on election night Mattiello insisted he had won considering the absentee ballots. He was right, Mattiello had the absentee votes to erase Frias’ machine lead and then some.

Asked why he was feeling better about this race, Frias said it was his take of the comments and friendliness of voters.

“I’m feeling good about this,” Mattiello said.

His feeling was soon reaffirmed by Mary Lombardi. As Mattiello escorted her to the door of the school, carrying high his umbrella. She thanked him for implementing legislation to phase out the car tax.

That night at the Oaklawn Grange Hall, Mattiello told a crowd of about 200 that he was grateful and humbled by the vote, adding that it is time to put the negative tone of the campaign behind and to move forward.

As of Tuesday night Mattiello had 3,101 votes and Frias 2,960.

One of the first steps Mattiello will make is to solidify his position at House Speaker. He has called for a Democratic caucus on Thursday.

Comments

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Cat2222

i heard both Fung and Frias say that it was difficult going up against the machine. That may be true but Frias was only 318 votes away from Mattiello. That tells me that the people in District 15 are starting to get sick of the same old song and dance.

Fung just wasn't the man who could beat Raimondo. Sometimes it comes down to not being the right candidate. Results show that Trillo was a non-issue and voters resoundingly chose Gina over Allen. Still shaking my head at that!

Friday, November 9
Scal1024

Cat, I agree with you Fung was not the right candidate. I will say the coverage Joe Trillo recieved was much more than other candidates polling in single digits should be getting. Allowing Trillo and Gilbert to participate in the debates takes time, questions and responses away from the 2 major party candidates. I feel like Trillo sucked up alot of oxygen in the race, and while he wasn't stealing the votes away from Fung, laying into Fung at the debates and calling him "weak" wasn't a positive for Fung at all.

As far as Frias I felt he ran a much better race 2 years ago. Last elections race was equally as close. Mattiello is no liberal and I think when his voters in his district are faced with the decision they think: Would they rather unseat Mattiello, have him replaced by a freshman Republican in a weak minority (which would also likely mean a more liberal Speaker) OR would they rather send Mattiello back again, have the RI Speaker as your Rep and know that the state is more in the middle than moving left?

I have been saying for years Fung is stuck at 34%-38%. Even if Trillo "stole votes from Fung" which there is zero evidence of, there is something to be said that in 2 elections Fung couldn't close the deal and was leaking votes to 3rd party candidates Bob Healy and Joe Trillo. 4 years from now will be a much more competitive race for Governor with Magaziner, Gorbea possibly even Langevin or Elorza. The 2018 race for Governor is over, but the 2022 race has already begun.

Friday, November 9
richardcorrente

Fung had approximately $800,000. Raimondo had approximately $8 million. Fung could have beaten Raimondo, but not Raimondo's war chest. I thought he held his own during the debate but got crushed in the TV ads. She just out-contributioned him.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Monday, November 12
Justanidiot

master mayer, Bob Healey spent next to nothing in 2014 and garnered a very respectable showing. If you just want to elect candidates who get the most money, lets do away with all this nasty election business and just let people fund raise from corporations. The sooner you get it that the only people who count in We the people are corporations, then, and only then will you get elected dog catcher or whatever office you have been running for all these years.

Tuesday, November 13
Scal1024

Beat me to it Justanidiot. How would Rick Corrente explain the success of Bob Healy in '14 after spending no money? Allan Fung was not a good candidate in either election. He might be a good Mayor however, these 2 elections have shown he is not ready for primetime. The state Republican party will continue getting their base 30%-38% of the vote (give or take depending on the candidate) and nothing more. They need candidates that transcend party lines. Allan Fung was not that candidate in this election.

Rick Corrente would like to think Mayor Fung lost due to money, because in his delusional mind Rick Corrente believes that the reason he lost to Joe Solomon was due to money. This of course, is NOT true. Rick Corrente lost because he is a bad candidate, he has a history of tax delinquency and because he is NOT qualified to be Mayor of Warwick. Allan Fung ran for Governor twice and both times he was stuck in that 35%-38% range. Meaning after 4 years he still couldn't move the needle and attract a significant amount of voters. Rick Corrente ran for Mayor twice. In 2016 he recieved just over 14,000 votes on his way to getting smacked around by Former Mayor Scott Avedisian in the election. In 2018 Rick Corrente recieved just under 2,000 votes while getting embarassed by now REAL MAYOR Joe Solomon, meaning 12,000 voters jumped off the "Corrente train" from 2016 to 2018. That is what we call a rapid decline. Again, why is it in around 2 years Rick Corrente LOST 12,000 voters? I'll give you a hint: It wasn't because of the rain. More likely Warwick voters that did cast their ballot for Corrente in 2016 had incredible buyers remorse after seeing his erratic, angry, child-like behavior on this website. I look forward to joining THOUSANDS of more Warwick voters in making the TWO TIME LOSER a THREE TIME LOSER in 2020.

Tuesday, November 13
richardcorrente

Dear Scal1024,

Please don't try to con the readers into believing you know how I think. You do that all the time and it never works. Albert Einstein said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result". It's as if he actually met you, you anonymous coward of a critic. Unlike you, I stand by my word. Unlike you, I'm not afraid to use my REAL name.You don't even have a real name to stand by! You say Solomon ran a clean campaign? Really? With you and Cote as his henchmen? (Paid or otherwise) It's like saying Raimondo ran a "clean" campaign, as if she wasn't behind all the organizations that attacked Fung. You lied about me repeatedly and when I proved myself innocent with names and phone numbers that anyone could double check, you didn't even have enough integrity to admit you were wrong. You hide behind a fake name so you don't have to accept responsibility for you dishonesty. My sons are always telling me how proud they are of me and my 2 campaigns. Your children probably don't even know your screen name. If they did, they would be ashamed.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, November 15
CrickeeRaven

Scal, you've again proven the two-time election reject's complete failure at anything except making a humiliating spectacle of himself.

For all of his talk of "name and phone numbers," we know the objective and factually true information about him is online and readily available for anyone to see.

We also know his claim of "standing by [his] word" lasts only as long as he thinks other people agree with him -- we've witnessed how he once praised Mayor Solomon and then made up all manner of false accusations once Mayor Solomon decided to run for a full term this year.

And all his name-calling and insults do is show how little actual substance his words have; he has failed so spectacularly at getting votes [a net loss of 12,000 in two years' time] that all he has left is repeating his long-debunked statements and insulting other commenters.

Thanks again for calling him out and getting him to again prove his unfitness for office.

Thursday, November 15
Scal1024

Yes Rick, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. For example, if a candidate ran in 2016 and lost a blow out election receiving14,000 votes, then lost in a blowout election in 2018 receiving only 2,000 votes it would be completely insane for that same candidate to run a 3rd campaign expecting a different result. Yet, here you are. On your way to a THIRD FAILED CAMPAIGN. You are a liar, a fraud and a proven tax delinquent and no amount of names or phone numbers will ever prove otherwise. You keep attacking the messanger because you know my message is 100% correct. Keep posting lies Slick Rick, and I will call you out EVERY. SINGLE. TIME

Thursday, November 15