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Rhode Island, Meet The New Boss

March 8, 2021 by TWN Staff
Dan McKee is sworn in as Rhode Island governor in a small, socially distant ceremony at the State House. (Office of Gov. Dan McKee)

Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Dan McKee was sworn in las week as the state’s new governor following former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s confirmation as the nation’s next secretary of commerce.

McKee was first elected as lieutenant governor in 2014, prior to which he served as the mayor of Cumberland, R.I., for six terms. He was in his second of two possible four-year terms as lieutenant governor.

According to the state’s constitution, gubernatorial vacancies are filled by the lieutenant governor, who serves until the next regularly-scheduled election in 2022.

In the formal letter of resignation Raimondo submitted to McKee on March 2, the outgoing state chief executive spoke warmly of what the two had been able to achieve together and excitedly about the honor of being called to be the next commerce secretary.

“I have the utmost confidence in you,” she wrote to her successor. “You are a proud Rhode Islander, a dedicated public servant, an experienced executive, and a good man. You will serve our state honorably as its 76th governor.”

The Boston Globe reports that as of his most recent financial disclosure filing, McKee was listed as vice president of McKee Brothers Oil Corp., his family’s home heating oil company. But he will step down from that position, spokeswoman Andrea Palagi said Wednesday.

He graduated from Assumption University in Worcester in 1973 with bachelor’s degrees in political science and education, and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2005.

As a member of the Cumberland High School class of 1969, he cleaned up in the superlatives, being named “Most Courteous,” “Best Personality,” “Most School Spirit,” “Most Sincere” — and “Most Ambitious.”

McKee took the oath of office Tuesday evening at a small, socially distant ceremony presided over by Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. His wife, Susan, was in attendance, as well as Kara and Matthew, their children, and Matthew’s fiancée, Laura Clifford.

“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve the people of Rhode Island at this crucial time for our state,” McKee said. “I will work hard, day in and day out, on behalf of Rhode Islanders in all 39 cities and towns to ensure we come out of this pandemic stronger than we went in.”

Several Rhode Island lawmakers were also in attendance: Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Majority Leader Christopher Blazejewski, who was there on behalf of House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi.

McKee’s public inauguration ceremony was held at noon on Sunday, on the south steps of the State House.

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