Sabina Matos (born February 13, 1974) is an American politician serving as the 70th lieutenant governor of Rhode Island. Sabina Matos is the first Dominican American elected to statewide office in the United States. Matos also holds the distinction of being the first Black statewide officeholder in Rhode Island.[1]

Sabina Matos
Matos in 2021
70th Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island
Assumed office
April 14, 2021
GovernorDan McKee
Preceded byDan McKee
President of the Providence City Council
In office
January 7, 2019 – April 13, 2021
Preceded byDavid Salvatore
Succeeded byJohn Igliozzi
May 19, 2017 – December 21, 2017
Preceded byLuis Aponte
Succeeded byDavid Salvatore
Member of the Providence City Council
from Ward 15
In office
January 2011 – April 13, 2021
Preceded byJosephine DiRuzzo
Succeeded byOscar Vargas
Personal details
Born (1974-02-13) February 13, 1974 (age 50)
Paraíso, Dominican Republic
Political partyDemocratic
SpousePatrick Ward
EducationRhode Island College (BA)

A member of the Democratic Party, she previously represented Ward 15 in the Providence City Council and served as Council President. In 2023, she ran unsuccessfully in the special election for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district, being eliminated in the Democratic primary.[1]

Early life edit

Matos was born in Paraíso, Barahona, Dominican Republic in 1974.[2] Her mother was a teacher and her father served as mayor of Paraíso.[3] She immigrated to the United States in April 1994, at the age of 20, with her parents and sister. She spoke no English when she moved to the United States, and thought she would return to the Dominican Republic by the end of the year.[2][3][4]

After briefly living in New York, Matos and her family settled with her uncle in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island.[3] Matos graduated from Rhode Island College with a bachelor's degree in communications and public relations in 2001.[2][5] She became a United States citizen in 2005.[3]

Providence City Council edit

Matos ran for the Ward 15 seat on the Providence City Council in the 2006 elections, losing the Democratic primary to long standing incumbent Josephine DiRuzzo. She challenged DiRuzzo again in 2010, and won.[3] She was a 2014 Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow.[6]

Matos became acting president of the council in May 2017 and served in the role until December 2017.[7] She was elected president of the city council in January 2019.[8] During the 2020 presidential election, she served as one of Rhode Island's four electors.[9]

Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island (2021-present) edit

In 2021, after Gina Raimondo resigned as Governor of Rhode Island to become the United States Secretary of Commerce, and Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee succeeded her as Governor, Matos applied to become the next Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island.[10][11] On March 31, 2021, Governor McKee announced he would nominate Matos to be Lieutenant Governor.[12] The confirmation process began in the Rhode Island Senate on April 8,[13] and the judiciary committee approved her nomination unanimously, sending her nomination for confirmation by the full Senate.[14]

Matos with Dan McKee in 2023

On April 9, 2021, Matos submitted her resignation from the Providence City Council, effective April 13.[15] Matos was confirmed as lieutenant governor by the State Senate on April 13 by a vote of 34–0 and was sworn into office on April 14.[16] She is the first member of an ethnic minority and the second woman to hold the position.

In the 2022 Democratic primary, Sabina Matos defeated State Representative Deb Ruggiero and State Senator Cynthia Mendes winning with 47.1% of the vote. In the 2022 general election, Matos defeated Republican Aaron Guckian and Independent Ross McCurdy winning with 51.2% of the vote.[17]

In 2022, Matos supported the Tidewater Landing Soccer Stadium deal.[18] The deal was approved after Gov. Dan McKee cast the tie-breaking vote to approve $36 million in previously approved bond funding to pay for the stadium alone, instead of in partnership with adjacent housing and commercial development.[19] The deal was criticized by State Senator Cynthia Mendes, as "a giveaway to 'luxury' housing developers, who then donate to the political campaigns of the people voting for the developments".[19] Matos defended the deal saying it was "a proposal that brings sports back to Pawtucket, builds housing and protects taxpayers".[20]

2023 congressional candidacy edit

On March 13, 2023, Matos announced her candidacy for the special election in Rhode Island's 1st congressional district.[21] Polling released by Matos' campaign in June 2023 found that Matos led the Democratic primary field, where she faced eight opponents.[22] Her candidacy was endorsed by Emily's List, Latino Victory, PODER PAC, Elect Black Women PAC, Elect Democratic Women PAC and Bold PAC, a political action committee associated with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.[23]

In April, Matos falsely claimed 31 endorsements from politicians across the state. The next day, the campaign admitted that despite its initial claims, six of its alleged endorsees did not actually endorse her.[24]

Ongoing investigations against campaign edit

Matos qualified for the ballot, but her campaign is currently the subject of multiple ongoing criminal investigations for submitting fraudulent signatures on campaign nomination papers.[25] On July 17, 2023, Jamestown election officials discovered alleged fraudulent signatures on Matos' campaign nomination papers and referred them to the local police.[26] The alleged fraud included names and signatures of five voters who had been dead for multiple years.[26] In the following days, similar instances of fraudulent signatures were discovered on nomination papers at the Newport and East Providence Board of Elections and subsequently reported to local authorities.[27] The paperwork referred to local police included signatures purportedly from individual residents who claim they never signed the nomination papers, and signatures from all five members of the East Providence City Council with incorrect addresses, including two at City Hall.[28] On July 19, it was announced that Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha was taking the lead in investigating Matos' campaign signatures across the state. The investigation is ongoing.[28]

On August 8, the Rhode Island Board of Elections voted 5-to-2 to review all 1,526 signatures submitted on behalf of the Lieutenant Governor. The investigation is ongoing.[29]

Personal life edit

Matos resides in Providence with her husband, Patrick Ward, and their children.[3] She is Catholic.[30]

Electoral history edit

2022 Rhode Island lieutenant gubernatorial Democratic primary results[31]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sabina Matos (incumbent) 50,704 47.11%
Democratic Deb Ruggiero 35,620 33.10%
Democratic Cynthia Mendes 21,304 19.79%
Total votes 107,628 100.0%
2022 Rhode Island lieutenant gubernatorial election[32]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Sabina Matos (incumbent) 180,909 51.18% –10.69%
Republican Aaron Guckian 152,458 43.13% +14.04%
Independent Ross McCurdy 19,507 5.52% +2.95%
Write-in 608 0.17% –0.52%
Total votes 353,482 100.0%
Democratic hold

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Sabina Matos, an Afro Latina lieutenant governor, reflects on her history-making trajectory". NBC News. February 17, 2023. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c Cruz Tejada, Miguel. "Sabina Matos representa el poder político de la mujer dominicana en Estados Unidos como presidenta del ayuntamiento en Providence". Diario Libre (in Spanish). Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Gregg, Katherine. "Will lieutenant governor's office be next stop on Sabina Matos's political journey?". The Providence Journal. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  4. ^ List, Madeleine (January 11, 2019). "Providence City Council, with first-ever female majority, sets a new direction". The Providence Journal. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  5. ^ Martini, Ann M. (October 2, 2020). "2020 Vision: A Sit Down with Sabina Matos". Providence Media. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  6. ^ List, Madeleine. "Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in R.I. next month". The Patriot Ledger. Quincy, Massachusetts. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  7. ^ McGowan, Dan (December 21, 2017). "David Salvatore elected Providence City Council president". WPRI-TV. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  8. ^ "Matos takes charge as City Council welcomes first-ever female majority". WPRI-TV. January 7, 2019. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  9. ^ Gavigan, Parker (December 3, 2020). "Who are Rhode Island's electors about to vote for president?". WJAR. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  10. ^ "Sabina Matos tapped to be lieutenant governor". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  11. ^ "McKee picks Sabina Matos for RI lieutenant gov". WPRI-TV. March 30, 2021. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  12. ^ "Watch live: McKee picks Sabina Matos for RI lieutenant gov". WPRI-TV. March 30, 2021. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  13. ^ "McKee cites LG pick's 'inspirational' story". Cranston Herald. April 7, 2021. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  14. ^ "Matos approved as LG by Senate committee; full Senate to vote next week". WPRI-TV. April 8, 2021. Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  15. ^ "Matos submits resignation letter to Providence City Council". WJAR. April 9, 2021. Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  16. ^ Russo, Amy (April 14, 2021). "Sabina Matos sworn in as Rhode Island's first lieutenant governor of color". The Providence Journal. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  17. ^ "Incumbent Sabina Matos wins Lieutenant governor position over Aaron Guckian".
  18. ^ "Sabina Matos wins 3-way primary race for lt. governor; will face Aaron Guckian in November". The Providence Journal. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  19. ^ a b "In Democratic debate for RI lieutenant governor, track records are touted as everything". The Providence Journal. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  20. ^ "Officials break ground on Tidewater Landing project". WPRI-TV. August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  21. ^ Anderson, Patrick (March 13, 2023). "Sabina Matos announces run for 1st Congressional District seat. What to know". The Providence Journal. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  22. ^ "Matos campaign says poll shows her leading RI race for Congress". WPRI-TV. June 12, 2023. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  23. ^ Mueller, Julia (April 20, 2023). "Hispanic Caucus PAC jumping into race to replace Cicilline in Rhode Island". The Hill. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  24. ^ Nagle, Kate. "Matos Falsely Claimed 31 Endorsements — 6 Did Not Actually Endorse Her". GoLocalProv. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  25. ^ Sherman, Eli; White, Tim; Leslie, Alexandra; Wilkinson, Kate (July 19, 2023). "Matos signature scandal spreads across RI; AG now 'taking the lead' on investigation". WPRI-TV. Retrieved July 25, 2023.
  26. ^ a b "Matos allegedly submits fraudulent signatures, Jamestown officials investigating". The Providence Journal. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  27. ^ "Matos signatures in Newport will also be referred to police. What we know". The Providence Journal. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  28. ^ a b "Matos signature scandal spreads across RI; AG now 'taking the lead' on investigation". WPRI-TV. July 19, 2023. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  29. ^ Fitzpatrick, Edward (August 8, 2023). "R.I. Board of Elections will review all 1,256 Matos nomination signature". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  30. ^ Sabina Matos [@Sabina_Matos] (June 1, 2019). "Bishop Tobin does not speak for all Catholics. Many of us choose to believe that all men and women are equal, regardless of who they love. #Equality #LoveIsLove" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  31. ^ "2022 Statewide Primary". Rhode Island Board of Elections. September 22, 2022. Retrieved September 29, 2022.
  32. ^ "2022 General Election - Lieutenant Governor". Rhode Island Board of Elections. November 16, 2022. Retrieved November 19, 2022.

External links edit

Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island