PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee is one step closer to picking Rhode Island’s new No. 2 statewide officeholder.
McKee’s office confirmed Tuesday that his team of vetters has finished their first round of interviews with some of the dozens of Rhode Islanders who have applied to take McKee’s old position as lieutenant governor now that he has succeeded Gina Raimondo.
State House insiders believe the top contenders include Providence City Council President Sabina Matos, former Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, R.I. Democratic Party Treasurer Liz Beretta-Perik and state Sen. Lou DiPalma. But people close to McKee have cautioned that the situation is fluid.
McKee spokesperson Andrea Palagi declined to say how many of the initial interviewees will move on to the next round of the selection process, though the governor has indicated he expects to make a decision within the next month.
“As we mentioned, all applicants were offered an initial interview,” Palagi said, adding, “Individuals have not yet been notified about next steps.”
On Monday, McKee told 12 News he plans to interview “a couple” finalists himself. But he also suggested there is value to talking with everyone who applied.
“We don’t know who we’re going to find there,” he said. “We may find people who maybe aren’t going to be the person that’s selected as lieutenant governor, but we may find people who are willing to serve on boards. We may find people that you might want to employ. We don’t know.”
McKee’s nominee will need to be confirmed by the Senate. If approved, the new lieutenant governor will serve out the remainder of McKee’s unfinished term, which expires at the end of 2022.
The governor’s office said the following 60 individuals were given an initial interview:
John Carlevale, Sr.
Rep. Grace Diaz
Mayor James Diossa
Sen. Louis DiPalma
TJ Del Santo
Jared Xavier Goodwin
Councilwoman Sabina Matos
Rep. Robert Phillips
Rep. Anastasia Williams
Last week, McKee’s office confirmed that the interviews are not being conducted at the State House, but rather at the private offices of CFO Compliance. The Providence campaign-finance consulting company was co-founded by former R.I. Department of Administration Director Brett Smiley.
McKee’s aides said the interviews are being conducted on behalf of the governor by the following individuals: Tony Afonso, Channavy Chhay, Dr. Catarina DaSilva, Brad Dean, Rosa DeCastillo, Erin Donovan Boyle, Brendan Doherty, Craig Dwyer, Chris Farrell, Paulette Hamilton, Bill Murray, Jennifer Ortiz, Joe Polisena, Armand Sabitoni and Kristin Urbach.