Last Thursday the Radisson Hotel in Warwick was transformed into a patriotic wonderland with red, white and blue streamers, balloons and other party gear for the Rhode Island State Republican Convention.
There was also a lot of yellow as Allan Fung supporters flooded the Radisson with the blue and yellow campaign attire, “Fung for Governor” stickers and shirts that said, “Fungtastic” or “Girls just want to have Fung.” They rallied in front of the hotel, all throughout the lobby and cheered their choice for governor the entire night. It overwhelmed the convention and no other candidates had such a visual display of support.
Fung said, “I have great and supportive volunteers. To tell you the truth, I was nervous coming into this. But, we drove up and I saw so many people who had faith in me and it energized me for game day.”
After dinner and nomination speeches, delegates were called to vote on which candidates they believed should receive an endorsement from the Rhode Island Republican Party.
As the votes were tallied, Sean Spicer, keynote speaker from Republican National Committee (RNC) and communications director, made a speech. Having grown up in Barrington, Spicer was “coming home” for the event. He joked Republicans in D.C. say we have only five Republicans in the state, but Spicer assured the party is strong and becoming stronger. He encouraged the Rhode Island Republicans to be a 365-day party, to work ceaselessly all year to elect Republicans into offices.
He said, “We can do it again and we are going to do it again this year if we are united as a party. We need to focus on the prize. Focus on them [Democrats] and not ourselves and we will win.”
Silence settled over the room as Fung was announced as the endorsement candidate, 120 to 46, over Ken Block. Fung’s supporters, clad in blue and yellow, holding large paddle signs declaring support from different municipalities, rushed to the front to cheer Fung on through his speech. Applause roared. In his acceptance speech, he said, “Our mission starts tonight … I will be challenging the system and standing with the people of Rhode Island when I become your next governor.”
He said he would bring back jobs to Rhode Island so intelligent and motivated graduates don’t have to “flee” the state to find work. He said he would work to make Rhode Island tax friendly while also making the state more competitive with its New England neighbors.
“It is time we take back our state. Rhode Island is our home. We already know it is beautiful, we just need to make it affordable for all of us,” he said.
After the convention, Fung said he was honored and thankful for winning the endorsement, but realized it was just step one and he was ready to take the next one by preparing for the primary on Sept. 9. He is excited to keep spreading his campaign, his strong opinions on bringing jobs and business back to Rhode Island. He wants to take the state from 50th for business and work toward bringing it up to number 1.
He thanked his volunteers for their endless support.
A few contestants were uncontested and received endorsements by a vocal vote. They were the first to make their acceptance speeches.
Senator Dawson Hodgson, endorsed as the candidate for attorney general, said he wants to “restore Rhode Island’s reputation and reform the leadership culture throughout the state.”
The “State of the State” TV host, John Carlevale, running for secretary of state, said, “I believe in the conservative effort and this year we need to woo the unaffiliated voter. They are a very powerful group of voters.” He said that he will work hard, regardless of party labels, once in office to get the job done right. He is hoping to see a Republican resurgence throughout the state.
Rhue Reis won the endorsement uncontested for the state’s Representative District 2, and joked it would have been sad if he didn’t, but he was nonetheless honored to receive it.
Reis said, “The trend of our government is in a crisis stage … I will take on the challenge and represent the people of Rhode Island and fight to get government back on the right path.”
Former secretary of state candidate Catherine Taylor, after winning the endorsement for lieutenant governor against Kara Young 134 to 31, said when she wins office she will use it to its full authority.
“I am going to make that office work for you. I see a clear path to victory no matter who I have to compete against,” Taylor said.
Cormick Lynch, a retired Marine, outpolled Stan Tran 54 to 21 for the Representative of District 1 endorsement. Lynch made a spirited and patriotic speech about Rhode Island’s necessary and pivotal actions in beginning the Revolutionary War. He said he would fight against monetary cuts to the military and would stand by the beliefs of his candidacy, “Action, achievement and accountability.”
Mark Zaccaria beat out Kara Young 151 to 14 for Senator. Zaccaria pointed to the “grand ol’ flag” behind him and said that the American colors don’t run, but they have been fading. He wanted to bring brightness back to the “colors” by revitalizing the America he grew up in instead of the “catastrophic” state it is in now.
Besides local candidates for office, there was also the whispers of a possible new Republican candidate for the presidency in 2016. Volunteers for the National Draft Ben Carson Committee attended the conversation and spoke with different representatives and volunteers to get out the word about Dr. Ben Carson.
Carson, a retired pediatric surgeon from John Hopkins, was first noticed at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. He spoke out against Obamacare and the “political correctness” of the government.
Although Carson has said publicly he is not interested in running, the Committee, also called “RunBenRun,” continues to collect signatures to entice Carson into candidacy.
Sarah De La Cerda, a volunteer for the committee at the convention, said, “Carson believes you can’t just run for president; a person must be called to candidacy by the American people to run. We continue to collect signatures to show that America is voicing a call to him.”
As a college student, De La Cerda said she is consistently bombarded with political correctness and to hear someone speak out against it was refreshing. She also mentioned whom better to speak out against Obamacare than a doctor?
Carson is also an accomplished author, having autobiographies and books laying out his philosophical and political beliefs.
He still has shown no motion to run.
De La Cerda said that at the convention many representatives showed interest in Carson and the committee collected 125 signatures in one night. She estimated that 750 signatures have been collected throughout Rhode Island.
Throughout the country the committee has collected 269,000 signatures.
Despite having numerous candidates endorsed and volunteers boasting Carson’s name, Fung took the show with his visual support and his endorsement for governorship.