PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Board of Elections voted Wednesday afternoon to allow Robert J. “Bob” Healey Jr. to appear on the November ballot as the Moderate Party nominee for governor, rejecting a challenge by the state’s Republican Party.
Healey surprised political observers last week by announcing that he planned to step in and replace James Spooner as the Moderate’s candidate for Rhode Island governor, saying Spooner was suffering from ill-health.
The Moderate Party was founded by Barrington businessman Ken Block after a long legal battle, but Block severed ties with the Moderates to run for governor this year as a Republican. However, the Moderate Party continued to exist as a legal entity, and its new leaders are running a number of candidates.
Block told WPRI.com on Tuesday that he had nothing to do with Healey entering the race.
The Rhode Island Republican Party had challenged the legality of having Healey replace Spooner as the Moderate nominee, noting among other things that Healey did not become a member of the Moderate Party until last week. But the board rejected the GOP arguments.
Healey is now set to appear on the ballot alongside Democratic nominee Gina Raimondo, Republican nominee Allan Fung, and independents Kate Fletcher and Leon Kayarian. It’s unclear which of the candidates’ campaigns will be most impacted by Healey’s presence on the ballot.
Healey’s long beard and cerebral style has become a familiar presence in Rhode Island politics after multiple candidacies for high office. Most recently, he won nearly 40% of the vote in the 2010 race for lieutenant governor by campaigning to abolish the office; the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor withdrew to help Healey.