National Newswatch

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island voters are deciding Tuesday whether the Democratic Party will maintain its three-decade hold on the U.S. House seat being vacated by longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin, or if a Republican will join the delegation.

Rhode Island's Democratic treasurer, Seth Magaziner, is trying to take Langevin's place representing the 2nd Congressional District. National Republicans are eyeing the seat as a possible pickup opportunity. Republican candidate Allan Fung, a former Cranston mayor, is well-known in the district and many political observers say the race is a toss-up. Moderate candidate William Gilbert is also on the ballot.

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

Magaziner has been the state’s 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 lower the cost of health care and turn “the page on Trumpism.”

Magaziner said that voting for Fung will empower House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and far-right Republicans to adopt extremist policies because Fung won’t stand up to them. Magaziner has worked to keep abortion front and center in the campaign, promising to fight any attempts to roll back women's rights.

Fung said he wants to bring back that “brand of moderate Republican leadership.” He projects the image of a New England moderate Republican by comparing himself to another popular Republican in a liberal neighboring state, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. Fung also talks about how he would work with Democrats, pointing to common priorities like investing in infrastructure and creating U.S. manufacturing jobs.

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

McCarthy visited Rhode Island to raise money for Fung and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited to show his support.

Magaziner has the state’s Democratic establishment behind him and support from national Democratic leaders. U.S. 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. He was endorsed by gun safety groups, the RI AFL-CIO and other large unions. He said he would support banning members of Congress from trading individual stocks and support term limits for members of Congress.

Nationally, Democrats up for election face headwinds because voters are blaming President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party for inflation. Fung is laser-focused on inflation — in ads, debates, conversations with voters and interviews, he talks about the cost of groceries and home heating oil. He says he wants to rein in federal spending.

Fung campaigned on how he attracted new businesses to Cranston, created jobs and improved schools. He said he would not support a national ban on abortion and he backs legislation proposed by a bipartisan group of senators seeking to codify the right to an abortion and protect contraception access in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. He was endorsed by business groups and law enforcement organizations.

Among Rhode Island’s registered voters, 44% are Democratic, 41% are unaffiliated and 15% are Republican, according to state data. Republican-heavy neighborhoods were moved into the 2nd Congressional District from U.S. Rep. David Cicilline's district during redistricting a decade ago.

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

Also Tuesday, voters are weighing whether Democratic Gov. Dan McKee will get to serve his first full term in office. 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 Gov. Gina Raimondo was tapped as U.S. commerce secretary.

Jennifer Mcdermott, The Associated Press

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