- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Democratic candidate for governor Gina Raimondo on Wednesday snagged the endorsement of former three-time gubernatorial candidate Myrth York, a progressive Democrat who had strongly supported Raimondo’s rival, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras in his mayoral run.

York made the announcement during an event the campaign held to discuss how to strengthen the economic security of women. Raimondo, the state’s general treasurer, is trying to become the state’s first female governor. She and York were also joined by Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, the only other woman to currently hold statewide office.

“She understands that when women do well, Rhode Island does well,” York told the crowd.

She said Raimondo has the skills and “unique talent” the lead the state, and is smart, determined, and knows how to get things done. Raimondo, who was elected treasurer in 2010, is best known for pushing through a landmark overhaul of the state’s pension system in 2011. Before that, she was a venture capitalist.

York, a former state senator, ran for governor in 1994, 1998 and 2002. She served as Taveras‘ campaign chair in his 2010 mayoral campaign, and said he had also sought her endorsement for his gubernatorial run. When asked why she was switching her allegiance, York said she did not see it as a change.

“This is a different race and a different time,” York said.

She added that Taveras had accomplished a lot in Providence and she wished he had run for mayor again. A spokesman for Taveras did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

York said she also met with another gubernatorial hopeful, Clay Pell, grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell and husband of Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, before deciding to endorse Raimondo.

Wendy Schiller, a political science professor at Brown University, said York’s decision indicates she sees Raimondo as the “heir apparent” to the efforts that progressive women have made to win the governorship.

Schiller said it’s smart for Raimondo to focus on women. Taveras is thought to have an edge among women who vote in Democratic primaries, she said, and Raimondo must maximize all the potential support she has if she wants to win out in the Sept. 9 primary.

“She’s got to make inroads within the Democratic party base, and also try to get women activated so that they vote in the primary,” Schiller said.

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