Raimondo’s Cabinet appointment garners mostly positive reaction from local leaders

PROVIDENCE – Elected and politically tied officials, company executives and nonprofit leaders on Friday offered both congratulations and criticism to Gov. Gina M. Raimondo on her nomination by the Biden administration to be secretary of Commerce.

Raimondo, who was first elected governor of Rhode Island in 2014 – the state’s first woman governor – will leave for Washington, D.C., midway through her second term to be part of President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet. Lt. Gov. Daniel J. McKee, who is in his second term as lieutenant governor and has hinted in running for governor in 2022, will finish Raimondo’s final two years as the state’s top government official.

Among those who reacted to Biden’s decision, and Raimondo’s pending departure, are:

  • “Democratic governors across the country look forward to working with Gov. Raimondo in her new role to help America safely recover from the pandemic and build an economy that works for everyone.” – Moan Lee, Democratic Governors Association executive director
  • “Governor Gina Raimondo has been a trailblazing leader throughout her life. In choosing her as his nominee for Commerce Secretary, President-elect Biden is recognizing her experience and dedication to enhancing commerce. Governor Raimondo will serve our nation well in this role. I am particularly looking forward to her leadership of the U.S. Census Bureau, which is operated by the Commerce Department.  I know I join Rhode Islanders in wishing her well as she goes forward to the confirmation process and look forward to congratulating her again in the near future.” – R.I. Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea
  • “As a fierce advocate for the Ocean State, the Governor made improving our business environment a priority. The signs of progress are visible throughout the state as entrepreneurs, businesses of all sizes, and wide-ranging industries continue to invest and grow. In the midst of the global pandemic, Governor Raimondo also offered strong leadership that helped save lives, safeguard communities, and keep families afloat in unprecedented times. While the Governor will certainly be missed, it’s assuring to know that our future President is nominating incredibly capable leaders with proven track records who will steer our nation to prosperity.” – U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I.
  • “Governor Raimondo has done an exceptional job in Rhode Island, particularly as she steered our state through the coronavirus crisis.  I believe Rhode Islanders will continue to benefit from Raimondo’s leadership as she takes on a major role in overseeing the national economic recovery and making American businesses more competitive in the global marketplace.” – U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
  • “I have absolutely no doubt she will be a rock star in Washington. As President-elect Biden seeks to rebuild a post-COVID economy, he has chosen the perfect person to guide him. Working with our General Assembly, she took Rhode Island from the highest unemployment numbers in the country to one of the lowest until COVID sadly impacted us.  She had many great economic achievements through Commerce Corporation programs, including the Qualified Jobs Tax Credit program I proudly sponsored and it has resulted in more than 3,000 new private sector jobs. She has also been a courageous and strong leader for the state throughout the COVID crisis.” – R.I. House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi
  • “I have enjoyed working in partnership with Governor Raimondo to address the many challenges facing Rhode Island. She will make an outstanding Commerce Secretary. I know she will have a tremendous impact at the national level. I thank her for her service to our state, particularly during this very difficult last year.” – R.I. Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio
  • “By nominating Governor Raimondo, President-elect Biden has chosen a leader who is innovative and steadfast in her ability to effectuate change, qualities I have witnessed firsthand. From her support for transforming Providence Schools to re-imagining the Innovation Corridor and Downtown, I have always admired Governor Raimondo’s foresight and vision. Beyond shattering RI glass ceilings, over the course of the past 10 months she has most notably guided our state through one of the most challenging periods in recent history. She will be ready on day one to support our nation’s economy through this pandemic and will outline a clear plan for recovery.” – Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, via Twitter
  • “IBM has worked successfully with Governor Raimondo to ensure America’s workforce is ready for the ‘new collar’ jobs of the future, and on reforming our education and skills system to provide additional job pathways for people without degrees. We know from experience that she is a strong, committed and creative leader. We look forward to working with the Secretary to drive economic recovery, expand access to opportunity, promote digital trade and strengthen US technology leadership.” – Christopher Padilla, IBM Corp. vice president of government and regulatory affairs
  • “A terrible decision by @JoeBiden, who has otherwise made solid Cabinet picks. Picking one of the most extreme advocates of corporate welfare to head the US Commerce Department will usher in an unprecedented flood of legalized corruption.” – Sen. Sam Bell, D-Providence, via Twitter
  • “Congrats @GinaRaimondo! Your tenacity and unwavering commitment to building stronger communities is exactly what our nation needs right now. It’s been a gift to partner with you in serving our amazing state. @liveunitedri is cheering you on!” – Cortney Nicolato, United Way of Rhode Island CEO and president, via Twitter
  • “Congrats @GovRaimondo on your nomination for Commerce Secretary! As Treasurer of @CrossroadsRI Board you raise $$ to build our Women’s Shelter and chaired [Women Helping Women] event since 2008, helping women experiencing homelessness. #RI loss is DCs gain. It’s been an honor working w/you.” – Karen A. Santilli, Crossroads Rhode Island CEO and president, via Twitter
  • ­“Nearly six years to the day after she took the oath of office on the steps of our State House, Governor Gina Raimondo prepares to leave Rhode Island in much better shape than she found it. Few governors have been as consequential for our state. None have matched her effectiveness, or the calm, steady hand with which she has guided us through this pandemic.” – U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I.
  • “With limited experience in the private sector as a venture capitalist, Gina Raimondo has virtually no ‘hands on’ experience in running a market-based business, as most of her career has been in government and politics, where she has become known as a Democrat hyper-partisan. As Rhode Island suffers from some of the most severe economic consequences and lack of population growth among all states in the nation, Raimondo’s economic and management track record over the past six years has led to a long trail of wreckage in the Ocean State. With Rhode Island expected to lose one of its two prized US House Congressional seats when the results of the 2020 US Census are released, under Governor Gina Raimondo, our state has clearly become a less desirable place to raise a family, receive an education, and build a career. If and when current Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee becomes Governor, at least Rhode Island will have a chief executive who has made attempts to regularly engage the small business community and hear out their concerns.” – Mike Stenhouse, Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity CEO
  • “Governor Raimondo and I spoke yesterday, and I congratulated her on her nomination to serve as Commerce Secretary. It was a productive call, and we discussed the importance of a smooth transition. Crucially, our state’s COVID response will not be impacted. Governor Raimondo and I agreed it is in the best interest of Rhode Island that the team leading our state’s COVID response remains in place throughout the pandemic as we distribute the vaccine and continue Rhode Island’s robust response. Nothing is more important to the success of our state. In the coming days, we will be working closely together to plan a smooth transition that prioritizes the needs of Rhode Islanders.” – Lt. Gov. Daniel J. McKee, incoming R.I. governor
  • “Raimondo’s track record of failure on jobs and the economy is as lengthy as a CVS receipt and one worthy of scrutiny. Her policies contributed to making Rhode Island the worst place in America for business, a sad distinction for somebody who wants to head the federal agency tasked with representing American businesses and promoting economic growth.” – Mike Demkiw, Republican Governors Association deputy communications director
  • “The Rhode Island Hospitality Association congratulates Governor Raimondo on her nomination to the post of Secretary of Commerce in President-elect Biden’s administration and know that she is well prepared to face this next challenge head-on. We’re looking forward to working with Governor McKee who has always been a strong advocate for small business, including the hospitality industry, whose owners play a critical role in the state’s economy.” – Dale J. Venturini, Rhode Island Hospitality Association CEO and president

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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