Magaziner and Fung face off for Rhode Island US House seat

PROVIDENCE, RI — Voters in Rhode Island decide on Tuesday whether the Democratic Party will maintain its three-decade hold on the U.S. House seat vacated by longtime Democratic Representative Jim Langevin, or whether a Republican will join the delegation .

Rhode Island Democratic Treasurer Seth Magaziner is trying to take Langevin’s place to represent the 2nd congressional district. National Republicans are eyeing the seat as a possible pickup opportunity. Republican candidate Allan Fung, former mayor of Cranston, is well known in the district and many political observers say the race is a draw. Moderate candidate William Gilbert is also on the ballot.

The liberal state is currently represented in Congress by Democrats. All of the highest statewide offices are also held by Democrats.

Magaziner has served as state treasurer since 2015. He is the son of former Clinton administration policy adviser Ira Magaziner. He said he would protect Social Security and Medicare, work to reduce the cost of health care and turn “the page on Trumpism.”

Magaziner said voting for Fung will allow Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy and far-right Republicans to adopt hardline policies because Fung will not stand up to them. Magaziner has worked to keep abortion at the center of the campaign, promising to fight any attempt to roll back women’s rights.

Fung said he wanted to bring back that “brand of moderate Republican leadership.” He projects the image of a moderate New England Republican by comparing himself to another popular Republican in a liberal neighboring state, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Fung also explains how he would work with Democrats, pointing to shared priorities such as investing in infrastructure and creating jobs in US manufacturing.

Fung is known throughout Rhode Island for serving as mayor of the state’s second-largest city, Cranston, from 2009 to 2021, and running for governor twice. He lost both times to Raimondo.

McCarthy traveled to Rhode Island to raise funds for Fung and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie visited to show his support.

Magaziner has the Democratic establishment in the state behind him and the support of national Democratic leaders. US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh spoke at a rally and first lady Jill Biden campaigned for him.

Magaziner highlighted his successes as treasurer during the campaign, including the strong financial performance of the state pension. It has been endorsed by gun safety groups, the RI AFL-CIO and other major unions. He said he would support banning members of Congress from trading individual stocks and that he would support term limits for members of Congress.

Nationally, Democrats running for office face headwinds as voters blame President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party for inflation. Fung focuses on laser inflation — in ads, debates, conversations with voters, and interviews, he talks about the cost of groceries and heating oil. He says he wants to rein in federal spending.

Fung campaigned on how he brought new business to Cranston, created jobs and improved schools. He has said he will not support a nationwide ban on abortion, and he supports legislation proposed by a bipartisan group of senators seeking to codify the right to abortion and protect access to contraception in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. It has been endorsed by business groups and law enforcement agencies.

Of Rhode Island’s registered voters, 44% are Democrats, 41% are unaffiliated and 15% are Republicans, according to state data. High-density Republican neighborhoods were transferred to the 2nd Congressional District from U.S. Representative David Cicilline’s district during the redistricting a decade ago.

Cicilline is expected to be re-elected on Tuesday for a seventh term. He faces Republican Allen Waters, who had previously mounted unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate in Rhode Island and the state Senate and U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.

Also on Tuesday, voters are wondering if Democratic Gov. Dan McKee will be able to serve his first full term. The former lieutenant governor is a heavy favorite against Republican Ashley Kalus. He became the state’s chief executive in March 2021 when two-term governor Gina Raimondo was named U.S. secretary of commerce.

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