When Patrick Kennedy announced his retirement from Congress, many lamented the end of an era and the loss of another progressive voice in the House. For the first time in five decades, there would be no Kennedy voice in Congress.
Republicans crowed about their chances in the first congressional district of Rhode Island. “The threat of a credible challenge was one of the big reasons why Kennedy left the race,” said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee. However, despite Republican ambitions, this is a solidly Democratic seat, which President Barack Obama carried by 65% of the vote and Kennedy carried in 2008 by a decisive 69%. The Democratic primary field for the seat, thus far, consists of Providence Mayor David Cicilline and former party chairman William Lynch. Others may also throw their hats in the ring since this seat has not been open since Kennedy’s election in 1994. Cicilline is currently leading the field in fundraising.
Cicilline was born in Providence, Rhode Island to a Jewish mother and Italian American father, and he identifies proudly as a Jew. He went to Brown University and founded a branch of the College Democrats with John F. Kennedy, Jr. After college, he went to law school and became a public defender. He was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1995 and served four terms. He earned a reputation as a fierce champion of political reform and gun safety, and his dedication to ethics in government won him Common Cause’s #1 ranking. During his time in the legislature, he came out as a gay man.
In 2002, Cicilline was elected mayor of Providence in a landslide, becoming the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. State Capitol. Because of his record of accomplishments as Mayor of Providence, Cicilline was elected president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors (NCDM).
Cicilline was elected mayor on his progressive pledge to restore public confidence in City Hall and to revitalize the city’s neighborhoods. He has worked as a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition to get illegal guns off the streets. Since his election in 2002, Cicilline has led a transformation of the city and its government, concentrating on economic development and educational reform. Under his leadership, Providence has seen crime drop to its lowest rate in 30 years. He is a strong supporter of progressive values; fighting for economic justice and civil rights for all.
Ohio Update: Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher defeated Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to win the Democratic primary for the Senate in Ohio Tuesday night. Fisher will face former Rep. Rob Portman, who won the Republican primary. Fisher received 55.62 percent of the vote while Brunner received 44.38 percent, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office.
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