Mayor Fung makes it official: He's running for governor again
In the race to become the 76th governor of the state of Rhode Island, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R) has officially (albeit not exactly surprisingly) thrown his hat in the ring for the second straight election.
“I am here tonight to fulfill a promise that I made a few years ago,” Fung said to a crowd gathered at Chapel View on Tuesday, Oct. 24 to announce his official campaign launch. “That if our governor couldn’t turn things around, I would be back to take on the status quo, the entrenched special interests, and the dysfunction on Smith Hill. Well, our governor failed miserably and it’s time to lead our state in a different direction.”
Fung is a Rhode Island man through-and-through. Born in Providence, Fung graduated from Classical High School in 1988. He then attended Rhode Island College, which was a stepping stone to law school. In 1995, he received a Juris Doctor Law degree from Suffolk University Law School.
After working in the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office, Fung was elected to the Cranston City Council in 2003, beginning a long political career in the city. He was first elected as Mayor of Cranston in 2008 and has handily won every re-election since. Now that he is serving for the last time as Mayor under Cranston’s term limits, he’s running for governor once again.
Despite his success in Cranston, Fung was unsuccessful in his first try at the governor’s office in 2014, when he lost narrowly to current Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo.
He claims that things would have gone differently had third-party candidate, the late Robert Healey, who garnered over 21 percent of the vote, not been in the race.
Now that he’s back running for governor in the upcoming 2018 election, Fung is optimistic that he can become the state’s next leader, in part, because he believes he would be an improvement over certain failures that he says Raimondo has had while in office. With Rep. Patricia Morgan’s announcement Monday, Fung is in for at least a two-way primary for the party’s nomination if not a 4-way contest given speculation.
In a rousing, pep rally – esque introduction to Fung, Anthony Manzo compared the Mayor to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, saying that when Belichick took over the Pats, “Hendricken could have beat them” but just as he turned the team around, Fung has turned the city of Cranston around ten-fold, as he’ll in turn do with Rhode Island.
During the speech, Fung pointed to what he believes are failures of Raimondo’s administration, such as the “cooler and warmer” rollout that he said became an “international joke,” and the “inhumane rollout” of the UHIP health infrastructure project, which he said has personally affected his family as his father, Kwong-Wen, battles Parkinson’s.
“This governor’s incompetence is no laughing matter,” he said during the speech. “It is continuing to cost us millions of dollars, and forcing our most vulnerable into horrific positions.”
Fung also talked to the Herald about the economic problems he sees in the state, saying, “I’m disappointed on the jobs front and the fact that we’re always the first one into a bad economy and the last one out.”
Fung also believes he has shown effective and productive leadership that make him suitable to be the next governor during his political career in Cranston.
“I’m back because Cranston is a great blueprint for what needs to happen in the state, where we can have development, big developments like Chapel View and Garden City, without having to treat our taxpayer dollars like a candy store, giving away money and basically bribing a lot of businesses to come into our state,” he said.
Fung touted the nearly 3,800 new jobs created in Cranston during his administration, which he said has been “done by making the tough decisions, by cutting wasteful spending and bringing real economic growth to our city.”
“We’ve balanced big international manufacturers with the small mom and pop shops of Main Street,” Fung said during his speech. “Manufacturing giants like TACO, Yushin, Cadence and Alex and Ani blend with national retailers like L.L. Bean, and complement small businesses like Jerilyn’s Sewing Shop.”
Fung said that the campaign is in a “very good position” right now in terms of funding, and he said that he aims to match his $1 million campaign funding goal with an additional $1 million in fundraising.
However, to even get to the point where he can potentially challenge Raimondo in a rematch, he’ll have to compete with Morgan, Republican State Representative (26th District) and current Minority Leader and possibly former Warwick Rep. Joseph Trillo, who’s expected to announce soon. Giovanni Feroce, former CEO of Alex and Ani, may even make the primary a four-candidate race with a possible bid as well.
If Fung makes it through the primary, he’ll likely be running for the second time against the incumbent Raimondo, who hasn’t yet announced officially that she’ll be running for reelection.
While Mayor Fung hits his campaign trail, which will be managed by Andrew Vargas Vila, he says that he will continue working every day in his mayoral duties to the city of Cranston.
“I never lose sight of my responsibilities as Mayor of Cranston,” he said in an interview Saturday. “I didn’t do it last time and won’t do it this time. You’ll see me committed and still putting forward projects…I’m not going to ever take my eye off the ball and my responsibilities to the residents of Cranston.”
Fung may still have those responsibilities up until his final term is up as Mayor, but he hopes that he’ll be in line for a different position come next year’s gubernatorial election, one that will allow him to enact his policies at a state level and help “reach the full potential of Rhode Island again.”