Six candidates for RI governor appear at forum

Six candidates for RI governor at a forum at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick May 5, 2022 (from left) Dr. Luis Daniel Munoz, incumbent Dan McKee, Republican Ashley Kalus, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Helena Buonanno Foulkes, Matt Brown and moderator Steph Machado. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By WPRO News

In a first chance to see the leading candidates for governor on stage together, five Democrats and one Republican fielded questions Thursday at a forum hosted by a business group at a luncheon in Warwick.

There was general agreement on the need for more affordable housing, and raising the minimum wage, but disagreement on whether to repeal the law enforcement officers’ bill of rights and raising taxes on the rich.

Incumbent Dan McKee was joined by fellow Democrats Matt Brown, Helena Buonanno Foulkes, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and Dr. Luis Daniel Munoz, along with the sole Republican businesswoman Ashley Kalus at the forum sponsored by the Rhode Island Expenditure Council.

Only Kalus described herself as pro-life, but acknowledged the protections enacted in state law in 2019 preserve the right to abortion contained in the national Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which the current Court is considering overturning, according to a leaked draft decision in a case challenging the landmark law.

“Nothing changes based on this in Rhode Island and for Rhode Islanders,” Kalus said.

Many of the Democrats said they would favor state funding for Medicaid abortion coverage. But Brown took the opportunity to take aim at Democratic leadership who resisted abortion protections in the past.

“Many Democrats who have a pro-choice platform, a pro- Roe v. Wade platform, who opposed codifying Roe v. Wade are still in office. They need to go,” Brown said.

Gov. McKee initially balked at taking part in the forum, but was a last-minute addition to the lineup.