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Democrat is Cicilline’s Biggest Threat in 2012

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Rep. David Cicilline and his staffers are living a political nightmare. With more than 40 percent of Rhode Islanders rating the Democrat’s job performance as “poor” – according to the latest WPRI poll – it looks more and more everyday like he will lose in 2012.

But when it comes to a Republican ousting the incumbent – don’t believe the hype. The Democrat running in CD-1 in 2012 will win. However, what should scare the former Providence mayor’s inner-circle is the far more likely threat of a fellow Democrat beating him in a September 2012 primary.

Over the past few weeks, former state police colonel Brendan Doherty (R) and state representative John Loughlin (R) have made their aspirations of challenging the incumbent widely known.

Both candidates – Doherty and Loughlin – have strong credentials, as well as impressive in their own right at captivating an audience and stirring up their political base. On top of that, with the recent WPRI poll showing that each of them could beat the incumbent in a head-to-head race, it’s easy to see why many believe a Republican will win CD-1 in 2012.

However, both Republican candidates will inevitably embark upon a bruising primary campaign. And as a result, their negatives will be heavily exposed and the winner will go into the General Election having spent a lot of money. And whoever the Republican candidate is left standing after a hard-fought primary, the General Election path is far from easy.

The victor will go on to face a Democrat who shares party affiliation with the popular President Obama, as well as U.S. Senator Whitehouse – who are atop of the November 2012 ballot, and will more than likely win while driving party loyalist turnout at the polls. This gives the Democrat in CD-1 a high likelihood of winning the General Election.

Therefore, if Rep. Cicilline can survive in September, he has a good chance of returning to congress.

But winning a primary against anyone at this point wouldn’t be easy for the incumbent – especially as his approval rating sits at 17 percent according to the latest Brown University poll. And as his Democratic support continues to slip, the likelihood of a well-known Democrat primary challenging him becomes more likely every day. As it should – there is a clear path to victory for a primary opponent.

Although Rep. Cicilline will have a sizeable war chest, this will be much less important in a low turnout Democratic primary. And there will be low turnout in the primary because registered Independents – who can vote in either the Democrat or Republican primary – will trend to the Republican side due to races being more competitive on the Presidential, U.S. Senate, and CD-1 fronts.

The big question is who could challenge Cicilline and win – and that’s where former Attorney General Patrick Lynch enters the conversation. With more than $400,000 in his campaign fund, a strong network from which to raise more money, high name recognition, and gracefully bowing out after an ill-fated gubernatorial run in 2010, he has built up good-will in the party and could win.

This is especially true in a low turnout Democrat primary, where most of Providence – the incumbent’s base – is at odds with him. And former Attorney General Lynch – a native of the high base Democratic voter area of Blackstone Valley – would likely garner more votes in the Valley, and would more than likely do very well amongst the Hispanic community in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls.

A similar story could play out if Treasurer Raimondo decided to take Rep. Cicilline on in a primary challenge. A Providence resident herself, she could potentially beat the incumbent in his own city, defeat him in several Blackstone Valley cities and towns, and win by a sizeable margin – likely by much more than former Attorney General Lynch.

To the best of my knowledge, former Attorney General Lynch and Treasurer Raimondo have not expressed interest in running for this seat. Nor has a noteworthy Democrat, yet. But any challenger who can raise enough money, and is willing to run a hard-nosed disciplined primary campaign, could become the next CD-1 congressman. And for Democrat’s with political ambition, taking over a U.S. House seat – especially one that once was filled by the prestigious Kennedy legacy – is within reach in 2012.

If you valued this article, please LIKE GoLocalProv.com on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Brett Broesder is a former campaign manager for Peter F. Kilmartin’s successful Attorney General run in 2010, and also served as the policy and legislative director for the office of Rhode Island Attorney General. He is currently a public-relations consultant for Hill & Knowlton in New York, NY.


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it's "Loughlin", not "Laughlin". get an editor.

Comment #1 by Stephen Hutchins on 2011 05 24

1. It's tough to take the analysis seriously of anyone who can't spell the names of the candidates.

2. Patrick Lynch is viewed as a typical inside politician. Either Loughlin or Doherty would love to take him on.

3. Sure, Raimondo could probably win this race. But it would look strange for her to jump ship from the Treasurer's office so soon. I think she'll hold off and make a bid for Governor--which she'd win if the election were held today.

4. Doherty may not have a "D" next to his name, but make no mistake he is actively trying to appeal to Democrats. He got up at a Democratic fundraiser recently and said, "I share Democratic values even though I'm running as a Republican". The only reason he's running as a Republican is to get a clear shot at Cicilline.

5. Either Loughlin or Doherty will trounce Cicilline. Don't forget, Loughlin nearly beat Cicilline when he was still the very popular mayor of Providence's largest city. Now polls show him beating Cicilline by double-digits.

Comment #2 by Todd B on 2011 05 24

One other thought: I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Loughlin running as an independent, which would could set up a three-way race between two pro-choice candidates and one pro-life candidate in the general election. If the last election showed anything, it's that an independent candidate can benefit from splitting the vote on key issues.

Comment #3 by Todd B on 2011 05 24


The fiction has begun. The real truth is Bill Lynch won't jump into this race because he is supporting Doherty. Does any Republican find that strange? This whole Doherty campaign is surrounded by players from the Republican party who supported Caprio. Toss in the vultures from the democrats who want a pound of flesh for supporting Doherty. Now you get Cianci saying on his show yesterday Loughlin can't raise money because he is not allowed to, which is also not true. Can you smell the set-up. Real Republicans will see right through this and they already are. Doherty also has a pattern of voting in Democrat primaries. Hassenfeld introduced Doherty at his kick-off, yes the same Hassenfeld that has given thousands to Cicilline. Follow the money it will tell you a lot. Doherty has an "R" next to his name, it should be a "D". Don't jump on the bandwagon based on career reputation. Loughlin almost beat Cicilline when he was popular...he will do it this time when Cicilline is crashing.

Comment #4 by jack flash on 2011 05 24


A "noteworthy" Democrat has not expressed interest in challenging Cicilline???

Are you deaf, dumb, and/or blind?

Another Lynch in the race? After the last Primary was handed to Cicilline by his hand-picked Lynch stalking horse?

Where have you been over the past 18 months? Venus?

Comment #5 by Charles Drago on 2011 05 24

The failure to mention Anthony Gemma takes away entirely the depth of this particular analysis...

Comment #6 by Timothy Snow on 2011 05 24

@jackflash: It doesn't surprise me at all that Lynch would support Doherty. The House is in solid Republican hands and RI's Democratic insiders don't have a voice there. They know Cicilline is going down, but they also know that Loughlin isn't beholden to them. Doherty is the perfect answer. He is pro-union and will keep the spigot of federal grants coming if he gets to Congress. The learning lesson for them from the governor's race was that Caprio should have run as a Republican. And that's why Doherty is running as a Republican.

Comment #7 by Todd B on 2011 05 24

gemma wasn't mentioned because no one takes him seriously. and a dem primary just isn't happening.

Comment #8 by Jen Petersen on 2011 05 24


The candidate who, in his first political campaign, finished a strong second in a congressional primary against a sitting capital city mayor who lied his way to victory is, in your astute political judgment, not taken seriously?

Looks to me like you have a self-other problem, dear Jen.

A Democratic Primary will happen, and David Cicilline will not win it -- even if he's in it.

Sorry to say such things about your role model, but the truth is what it is.

And Doherty is running as a candidate of the Republican Party of Bush, Cheney, Palin, Bachmann, et al because he is just the latest in a long line of political hacks who, devoid of integrity, will say and do whatever they think it takes to "win it."

Comment #9 by Charles Drago on 2011 05 24

@Charles: Gemma finished "a strong second"? Didn't Cicilline beat Gemma by something like 14 points? And that was when Segal (a left-winger like Cicilline) was in the race. Segal's 20% probably would have gone to Cicilline if he hadn't run. I hope Gemma does run, but he's not a real strong candidate.

Compare Gemma to Loughlin, the GOP candidate. Gemma raised $380K. Loughlin raised $815K. Gemma lost to Cicilline by 14 points in a PRIMARY. Loughlin lost to Cicilline by 5 POINTS in a GENERAL.

The reason Democrats aren't flocking to Gemma is because they don't think he can beat the Republican candidate.

Comment #10 by Todd B on 2011 05 24

gemma blowing another 300k of his own money (since he isn't able to raise any) in a dem primary is amazingly stupid. if gemma is serious, and no one thinks he is, he would run as an independent.

Comment #11 by Jen Petersen on 2011 05 24


All of this, of course, is academic until Gemma announces his intentions.

On the other hand ... Actions are being undertaken behind the scenes, and the intensity of political maneuvering at this relatively early stage of the game speaks to David Cicilline's fatal vulnerabilities.

The first Democrat out of the box to demonstrate the courage to take on a sitting congressman will be the putative favorite to win the Primary.

Don't count anyone out.

As a matter of fact ... count everyone in.

And bet your house that mistakes made last time will not be made this time.

Comment #12 by Charles Drago on 2011 05 24

Financing one's own campaign, as Anthony Gemma did, means he doesn't "owe" anybody "anything"...except lending his ears to the voices of the people, such as you & I. Since when has being admirable and righteous been confused with stupidity..? The man has heart.

Comment #13 by Timothy Snow on 2011 05 24

So no cheesy hope letters or songs, temper tantrums at city hall, and this time gemma will know whether or not he wants to privatize social security?

Doesn’t change the fact that he still can’t raise any money and no one in the dem party takes him seriously.

Comment #14 by Jen Petersen on 2011 05 24


What you term a "temper tantrum at City Hall" was Anthony Gemma speaking the truth to David Cicilline in the corrupt, lying mayor's lair.

Gemma told the truth about how David Cicilline personally is responsible for the dizzying decline of Providence public schools. He did so with a righteous indignation that for too long has been absent from political discourse.

"Jen Petersen," you are a David Cicilline surrogate -- yet another one -- who apes his/her master's despicable contempt for the truth.

Neither you nor Cicilline can spin away from the fact that David Cicilline is politically dead and buried.

But thanks for attacking Anthony Gemma -- Any enemy of David Cicilline is a friend of all Rhode Islanders!!!

Comment #15 by Charles Drago on 2011 05 24


And by the way, spare us your senior citizen scare tactics -- yet another page from the David Cicilline playbook that will not work.

Anthony Gemma is the best friend senior citizens could possibly have in public office. And he was the ONLY candidate for Congress in 2012 who put forward a plan to put money in seniors' pockets by STRENGTHENING Social Security and making it fair again.

No privitization.

Rather, PRESERVATION of a Social Security system that provides COLAs and other benefits for the most deserving and honored members of our society.

David Cicilline lies to senior citizens.

David Cicilline destroys the public schools of senior citizens' grandchildren.

Anthony Gemma stands tall for senior citizens.

Game, set, match.

Comment #16 by Charles Drago on 2011 05 24

Lifetime politicians are comfortable asking for money, which we ALL end up paying for on the "back end"...this is what sets Anthony apart. The Democratic Party SHOULD take his potential run again seriously, We Rhode Islanders need the "HOPE" brought back into our State motto.

Comment #17 by Timothy Snow on 2011 05 24

@Charles Drago, I have some news for you. The democrat party in Rhode Island has been full of corruption for a long time. Where do I start..perhaps Gerry Martineau, or maybe Celona...or how about Irons, Harwood, shall I go on....how about the North Providence Town Council? Cicilline is just another liar in the bunch. I find it interesting how you can target the Republicans as "hacks." Rhode Island is the poster child for democrat hacks. Doherty is running as a Republican and will use the Republicans to win his primary. He should have run as a democrat since they are all lining up to kiss his police badge.

Comment #18 by guy smily on 2011 05 24

@Timothy: I don't think many politicians like asking for money. They do it because they have to do it.

@guy smily: I agree that Doherty will try to use the Republicans to win his primary, but eventually he will be forced to give his positions on the issues. Most Republicans won't like them. Candidates from outside the political realm often generate a great deal of initial media buzz--which then tends to fade as people learn more about them.

Comment #19 by Todd B on 2011 05 24


"Guy Smiley" --

I give you Ed DiPrete.

That's GOVERNOR Ed DiPrete.

Peddle the b.s. where fertilizer is in short demand.

Comment #20 by Charles Drago on 2011 05 24


DRAGO You talk about BS....get your head out of the sand! You come up with one name. The unions own your Dems! The greed and corruption has taken over your party. You have SELECTIVE PERCEPTION AND RETENTION.

Comment #21 by guy smily on 2011 05 25

Some elected Dems are in support of Doherty because they know he is the best candidate for the job. A man who has a track record of solid integrity something this state has lacked in the form of elected officials. Hmm maybe a candidate who won't put party first but actually put the best interest of his constituents first? Omg that's not allowed in politics...Hence why nothing is getting accomplished down in DC. Oh wait Scott Brown is doing the same thing up in MA and the constituents on both sides of the party lines are loving him for it, does that make him a DEM now too. Get real people.

Comment #22 by John Smith on 2011 05 27

Oh BTW Brett good job on the article buddy!

Comment #23 by John Smith on 2011 05 27

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