- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Defeated Republican Ken Block on Monday endorsed his former rival for Rhode Island governor in an effort to present a united GOP front less than a week after calling the campaign vicious and saying he wasn’t ready to lend his support.

At a Statehouse news conference, Block offered what he called a “full-throated endorsement” of Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and said he would help Fung any way possible.

“Allan Fung will take the actions necessary to solve our economic crisis,” he said. “Rhode Island cannot afford four more years of economic drift.”

Fung, who won 55 percent of the vote in the Sept. 9 primary, said he was grateful for Block’s backing, and that Block will be front and center in the effort to garner support for a constitutional convention - one of the ballot questions in November. Neither Fung nor Block said how else Block might help the campaign against Democratic nominee and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

“If Allan asks me to knock on doors, I’ll go knock on doors,” Block said.

Both Republicans indicated during the primary they would support the nominee if they lost, but last week Block said he was still healing and not ready.

“It was a vicious and ugly race, and I’m not in a frame of mind where I can do anything from an endorsement standpoint at this point,” he told WPRI-TV.

On Monday, Fung called the race “spirited” - a characterization Block repeated. Asked what had changed, Block said simply: “Time.”

After the event, Block said he couldn’t yet say whether he would run for governor again - he ran in 2010 under the banner of the Moderate Party he founded and later abandoned - but he repeated that this run wasn’t a platform to seek higher office, as he had promised his wife.

He said he hadn’t done a full post-mortem on his campaign, and what he might do differently. But he said he thought the GOP primary turnout would be “way down,” around 15,000 voters. It ended up being 32,000.

At the same time, Block indicated that he heard from some supporters who said they voted in the Democratic primary to keep first-time candidate Clay Pell from winning the nomination over Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.

“We had no control over the Clay Pell effect,” he said. “People got substantially crazy with Clay Pell towards the end - people going into the race to vote against him. That happened a lot.”

In endorsing Fung, Block said a Democratic administration isn’t what’s needed to jumpstart Rhode Island’s economy.

“True change for Rhode Island cannot come from a compromised and a conflicted Democratic Party,” he said. “We need a strong party of opposition.”

The Democratic Party staged its own unity event on Friday. Raimondo was joined for a tour of a charter school by Taveras, Pell and other party leaders.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who came into office in 2011 as an independent but later became a Democrat, isn’t seeking re-election.


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