Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, the architect of changes in the state’s public pension system, won the Democratic primary for governor with 42.2% of the vote.
Ms. Raimondo on Tuesday defeated four other candidates, with the closest contenders being Angel Taveras (29.2%), the mayor of Providence, and H. Claiborne Pell (26.9%), the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell, according to vote tabulations from the State Board of Elections.
Among the general treasurer’s duties is serving as chair of the State Investment Commission, which establishes Rhode Island’s investment policies.
The pension system changes were approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee in 2011, and are the subject of a lawsuit by public employee unions. The changes included the creation of a hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution retirement system, the raising of retirement ages and the suspension of cost-of-living increases for participants in the $8 billion Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island.
In the general election, Ms. Raimondo will face Allan W. Fung, the mayor of Cranston, who won the Republican primary. Mr. Chafee, a Democrat, did not seek re-election.
Although Ms. Raimondo had been the front-runner during the primary campaign, her margin of victory was higher than expected, said Wendy Schiller, associate professor of political science and public policy at Brown University, in an interview.
Ms. Schiller said Ms. Raimondo won the primary contest because she was able to tap into voter concerns about the economy and jobs in general. Although Ms. Raimondo’s role in changing Rhode Island’s pension system caused some public employee unions to back Mr. Pell, her broader message about the economy propelled her to victory, Ms. Schiller said.