“I am running for Lieutenant Governor to be an advocate for the people, a voice for all the families who can’t afford a lobbyist at the state house,” Regunberg said in an official announcement speech at Aspray Boat House in Warwick.
A graduate of Brown University, the current representative from the 4th district of Providence has been involved with Rhode Island politics even before he was elected to office. In 2010, he co-founded the Providence Student Union, a nonprofit focused on infrastructure repairs, ethnic studies, curriculum and putting an end to high-stakes testing in Providence schools.
In his time as state rep, Regunberg has focused on issues including Rhode Island’s clean energy economy, climate action, raising minimum wage for tipped workers and mandatory paid sick leave for workers.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the legislature,” he said. “I’ve been in state government long enough to know the system needs change and I’ve seen how often Rhode Islanders are ignored.”
He now looks to focus on these issues, and more, as Lt. Governor.
“I’ve seen real change is possible, but there’s so much more we must do,” he said during the speech. “We can guarantee healthcare as a fundamental human right. We can rebuild our crumbling public schools and make sure the top 1 percent pay their fair share. We can launch a Green New Deal and put thousands of Rhode Islanders to work expanding clean energy.”
Despite running in the Democrat primary, Regunberg understands that he is not exactly part of the establishment, but takes pride in his independence and said he has many supporters at the state and city levels through his time in office.
“I’m running this race to try to shake up the status quo,” he said. “In a lot of ways it will look like an outsider race, not an establishment run. I do have a lot of support from the colleagues I’ve worked with on different campaigns, a number of them were there yesterday [at his announcement].”
As for funding, the campaign “won’t be getting any money from billionaires or super PACs,” but will focus on grassroots efforts and face-to-face fundraising around the state. Regunberg said he’s “confident we’ll be able to raise the resources necessary.”
The Chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party, State Representative Joe McNamara, praised Regunberg, but also talked about current Lt. Governor Dan McKee, who he expects will be a candidate for a re-election.
“I also know Lieutenant Governor McKee and have worked with him as well on a variety of issues,” McNamara said. “Both [McKee and Regunberg] are highly regarded in the Democratic Party.
McKee is expected to make an announcement of future plans on Nov. 7th at Dean Warehouse in Warwick, a location he selected to spotlight the importance of small businesses to the state.
McNamara said that no endorsement will be made by the Democratic Party until after meeting in the spring, when members of the state committee, which includes “a man and woman from every house district,” will meet to hear candidates speak, which he said is “an open process that gives everyone a shot.” The committee will then vote on which candidates to endorse.
Regunberg said he’d “love as much support as I can earn, so I’ll be looking for support everywhere I can get it,” but understands his status as an independent advocate may hinder his chances at party endorsement anytime soon.
As Regunberg begins his campaign and McKee is set to announce his own plans, the Democrat primary race for Lt. Governor is still early in the process but quickly heating up.