Biah drops out of 1st Congressional District race to pursue open R.I. Senate seat

PROVIDENCE – One candidate who was seeking to succeed David N. Cicilline in the U.S. House is shifting his election hopes a bit more locally.

Rep. Nathan W. Biah, D-Providence, announced late Monday that he has ended his congressional campaign. Now, Biah will run for the open 1st District R.I. Senate seat once held by the late Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin.

Goodwin, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986 and was the second-longest serving member of the chamber, died April 15 after a battle with cancer. A special election will be held to fill Goodwin’s now vacant seat.

Biah first launched his campaign in late March to seek the 1st Congressional District seat previously held by Cicilline – who is now the Rhode Island Foundation’s CEO and president. According to his campaign filings as of March 31, Biah has raised just $310, the lowest of the five candidates who have raised funds for their campaigns in that time.

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In a statement, Biah said his priorities for the Senate seat he’s now pursuing are the same as when he was pushing for Congress. Biah, a principal at Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School in the city, seeks to provide every child access to a “good public education,” as well as strengthen gun laws and enforce existing laws to make everyone safe.

“I entered politics to solve the problems I see every day as a principal and a father,” Biah said. “Whether it’s gun violence, untreated mental health problems, housing insecurity or the lack of good jobs … I have been a leader in addressing those challenges and will continue to do so as a state senator.”

Even with Biah’s departure, the Democratic side of the ballot is still loaded. Other confirmed Democratic candidates pursuing Cicilline’s seat are Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, Providence City Councilor John Goncalves, Sen. Sandra Cano, D-Pawtucket, former secretary of state candidate Stephanie Beaute, former Gina M. Raimondo aide Nick Autiello, former state representative Aaron Regunberg, Sen. Ana B. Quezada, D-Providence, Rep. Marvin J. Abney, D-Newport, Yale Law School Joseph C. Tsai Leadership Program Senior Executive Director Don Carlson, former White House staffer Gabe Amo, former Republican turned Democrat Allan Waters, Michael A. Tillinghast, Walter Berbrick and Stephen M. Casey.

The special primary election for the 1st Congressional District seat will be held Sept. 5 and the general election will take place Nov. 7, a schedule similar to a normal election year.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.