Raimondo beats back primary challenge in Rhode Island

Raimondo beats back primary challenge in Rhode Island
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Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) beat back an aggressive primary challenge on Wednesday from former Secretary of State Matt Brown, positioning her for a second term in office.

She won with 56 percent of the vote with 91 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press projected.

Raimondo’s triumph over progressive Brown came just a week after Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Overnight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House MORE (D) fended off a challenger from the left in Delaware.

The win by the more moderate Raimondo comes despite recent signs that she was struggling to win over voters. 

Raimondo was credited with helping turn Rhode Island’s struggling economy around after taking office in 2015, but the state continues to lag in key economic metrics. The governor also undertook an unpopular reform of the state pension system.

A Morning Consult survey released in July pegged her approval at 44 percent, with her disapproval at 46 percent.

Her unpopularity attracted a challenge from the left. Brown, who served as Rhode Island’s secretary of state more than a decade ago, campaigned on a strong progressive agenda, including “Medicare for All” and vowed to undo Raimondo’s pension reforms.

Brown won the backing of groups aligned with progressive firebrand, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (I-Vt.), including Justice Democrats, Indivisible and the Rhode Island chapter of Our Revolution.

But Brown lagged far behind Raimondo on campaign spending, dropping a little more than $400,000 on his gubernatorial bid. Raimondo, on the other hand, has spent nearly $8 million since the beginning of 2015, according to state campaign finance filings.

Raimondo will face Cranston's Republican Mayor Allan Fung in November, a repeat of the 2014 election in which the Democrat emerged victorious.

Cook Political Report rates the race as "likely Democrat," with Joseph Trillo, who's campaigning as a Trump supporter, also running as an independent. 

In 2014, Raimondo won a similar three-way race, beating Fung and frequent candidate Robert J. Healey, who died in 2016, with just 40 percent of the vote.