Gina Raimondo is the 75th Governor of Rhode Island. Currently, she is on her second term, having won the gubernatorial election in 2014 as well as the gubernatorial election in 2018. On top of that, Raimondo is the Chair of the Democratic Governors Association.
1. Born and Raised in Smithfield, RI
Raimondo was both born and raised in Smithfield, RI. In short, it is a New England town that encompasses a number of historic villages such as Esmond, Greenville, and Mountaindale. The region used to fall within the boundaries of Providence, RI, but that changed when it was incorporated as a separate town named for Smithfield, London in 1731.
2. Was a Rhodes Scholar
It is interesting to note that Raimondo was a Rhodes Scholar. For those who are unfamiliar, the Rhodes Scholarship is a scholarship started up by Cecil John Rhodes for the purpose of promoting unity within the British Empire as well as promoting a better relationship between Great Britain and the United States. As such, while it is quite prestigious, it is also quite controversial, seeing as how Rhodes was a British imperialist with very well-documented Anglo-supremacist beliefs.
3. Has Four Degrees
In total, Raimondo has four degrees. First, she has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard University. Second, she has both a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from New College, which is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. Third, she has a Juris Doctor that was earned from the Yale Law School.
4. Became a Venture Capitalist
Upon graduation, Raimondo spent some time as a law clerk for a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. However, she went on to enter a venture capital firm where she served as the Senior Vice President for Fund Development at its Manhattan offices. Later, Raimondo even started up the first venture capital firm in Rhode Island called Point Judith Capital, though this has since been relocated to Boston, MA. During this period, she specialized in health care investments.
5. Headed Up Effort to Reform the Public Employee Pension System
In 2010, Raimondo defeated her Republican opponent Kernan King to become the General Treasurer of Rhode Island. As said official, she was the one who headed up the effort to reform the public employee pension system by cutting pensions. Something that received bipartisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly as well as something like 60 percent support from the Rhode Island public. Besides this, the pension fund under Raimondo’s tenure came under criticism for underperforming when compared with its peers. Critics blamed it on a notable increase in the fees paid to hedge fund managers. Meanwhile, her supporters claimed that the investments in hedge funds served to stabilize the portfolio for more consistent returns over time than otherwise possible.
6. Pushed For Payday Lending Reform
As the General Treasurer of Rhode Island, Raimondo pushed for payday lending reform as well. In particular, she mentioned lowering the maximum interest rate allowed on payday loans in Rhode Island. For those who are unfamiliar, payday loans see high interest charged on small principals that are meant to be repaid when the borrower receives their next paycheck, thus explaining their name. Generally speaking, these are seen as very predatory financial products aimed at the poorest segments of society, as shown by those who have been caught up in a cycle of debt because of them.
7. Very Interested in Economic Matters
It seems safe to say that Raimondo has a strong interest in economic matters. After all, she has made a lot of changes in this regard ever since she became the Governor of Rhode Island. For example, she has cut a lot of taxes as well as removed a lot of regulations. However, she has also raised the minimum wage to $11.50, provided free tuition at community colleges, and financed the single biggest infrastructure program in her state’s history. Her efforts seem to have paid off in at least one regard, seeing as how Rhode Island’s unemployment rate is now in line with the national average rather than the highest in the United States.
8. Supported Mike Bloomberg
Curiously, Raimondo made the choice to support Mike Bloomberg’s campaign to become the Democratic nominee for the presidential election. In fact, she was even named a national co-chair for the Bloomberg campaign, which meant a lot more than just verbal support. Having said that, Raimondo’s support seems to have been ill-timed, seeing as how Bloomberg dropped out of the race less than a month later. Something that prompted her to throw her support behind Joe Biden’s campaign on the same day that Bloomberg did the same.
9. Got Into a Conflict with Governor Andrew Cuomo
Relatively recently, Raimondo got into a conflict with Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York because of the COVID-19 crisis. Basically, what happened was that she implemented measures to make sure that people from New York would self-quarantine for 14 days, which was motivated by said state being a hotbed for the novel coronavirus. Cuomo seemed to have been irritated by this, with the result that he threatened to sue while still expressing the desire that everything could still be worked out in an amicable manner. In response, Raimondo repealed the order aimed at New Yorkers before implementing a broader version aimed at all out-of-state travelers planning to stay in Rhode Island.
10. Now Overseeing Phase 2 of Reopening
Currently, Raimondo is overseeing the second phase of her reopening plan, which involves even more loosening of restrictions. For example, indoor dining is now permitted, though there are still serious limitations such as a maximum of 50 percent seating capacity. Likewise, non-critical retailers can now let in one customer per 150 square feet, though they are still encouraged to have their customers pick up preorders. Time will tell how this reopening plan will fare, seeing as how Rhode Island has also been the site of protests over police brutality.