12 to Watch in 2012: The Race in Congressional District 1

Friday, December 30, 2011


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He's smiling now, but a rough road lies ahead: the battle for CD 1.

If you thought this was a difficult year for David Cicilline, just wait until you see what 2012 has in store for the first-term Congressman. 

Cicilline will spend his time in Washington attempting to save payroll tax cuts for millions of working class Americans and attempting to cut trillions from the national debt, but the real focus will be on a re-election campaign that could wind up being the most expensive House race in Rhode Island history. 

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For the Congressman, the key will be trying to convince Democrats that despite his questionable handling of Providence’s finances during his eight year tenure as Mayor, he has been a solid Democratic vote while in Washington – something that could go a long way in a district President Obama won with 65 percent of the vote in 2008. 

But that doesn’t mean Cicilline won’t have his share of questions to answer as well. In a city that he left with what Mayor Angel Taveras called a “category five fiscal hurricane,” how much was he hiding during his 2010 Congressional campaign? That plus still-unfolding scandals within the Providence Community Action Program (ProCAP) and the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP) will give his opponents plenty of ammunition next year. 

Still, despite an approval rating of just 23 percent in the latest Brown University poll, Cicilline may be the favorite among a potentially crowded field of Republican and Democratic challengers, all of whom have their own warts; John Loughlin (too right), Brendan Doherty (too inexperienced], David Segal (too left) and Anthony Gemma (too unpredictable).  

Cicilline benefits from having the most campaign experience of the bunch and he clearly won’t go down without a battle. He’ll have the funds, the ground game and as one political insider told GoLocalProv, he has spent the past 12 months building up his political capital with local Democrats. “David has been everywhere this year,” the source said. “Every fundraiser, every event, everywhere. He knows he’s got to fight for every vote.” 

The question is whether his opponents can make Providence the central focus of the race for Congress. If they can paint Cicilline as the man who ran away to Washington while his city was crumbling, the 1st District could very well elect a new Representative. 


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