Many of the state’s most prominent Democrats gathered in Cranston Friday to demonstrate their support for General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, the party’s nominee for governor.
Joined by her primary opponents Clay Pell and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, the state’s congressional delegation, the leaders of the General Assembly and other state and local officials, Raimondo toured the New England Laborers’/Cranston Public Schools Construction and Career Academy on Sharpe Drive.
Raimondo and others framed the gathering as a show of party unity and a chance to highlight economic and educational issues.
“I’m running to be the jobs governor Rhode Island needs,” she told members of the media following the tour.
“The message of today is we need to come together, we need to work together … We need to create good, middle-class jobs in Rhode Island to grow the pie for everybody,” she continued.
It was the first joint public appearance for Raimondo, Taveras and Pell since the Sept. 9 primary, which the general treasurer won by a larger margin that had been expected by many observers. While the campaign had at times been contentious, all three said they are united heading into the Nov. 4 general election.
“There’s no bad blood at all … I’m grateful to both of them for pledging their support immediately,” Raimondo said. “I would have done the same.”
“I’m here to support her and the Democratic ticket,” Pell said prior to the tour, citing “real differences” between Raimondo and Fung.
Taveras – a former Classical High School classmate and close friend of the Republican nominee for governor, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung – was unequivocal in his support for Raimondo as the Democratic nominee.
“Allan is like a Yankee fan. I have friends who are Yankee fans,” he said.
“I’m looking forward and doing whatever I can to be helpful to [Raimondo] … There’s a big difference between Democrats and Republicans,” he added.
Neither Pell nor Taveras directly addressed their political futures or whether they will again seek elected office. Pell said he is “taking a deep breath after one of the most incredible experiences of our lives.”
Raimondo spoke of a “very different approach” between herself and Fung, and pointed to the Construction and Career Academy as an example of the kind of investment in training and connecting young people with employment opportunities that she would pursue as governor.
“We’ve lived through 20 years of Republican governors and lots of cuts,” she said. “It’s time for a Democratic governor.”
The brief tour of the Construction and Career Academy included a stop in a classroom, remarks from Executive Director Dennis M. Curran and a visit with construction technology students who are building a complete piece of roadway.
Others on hand included U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Cranston Superintendent Dr. Judith Lundsten, Cranston School Committee Chairwoman Andrea Iannazzi and Cranston Teachers’ Alliance President Liz Larkin.
“I’m thrilled to be part of this Democratic unity event,” Langevin said, adding that the Construction and Career Academy is “very impressive.”
“These kids are following their passion,” he said.
Cicilline called the gathering a “terrific show of support for our Democratic ticket,” and praised Raimondo.
“She’s created jobs. She knows how to do that,” he said.