Field for 1st Congressional District seat expands to 35 candidates

THIRTY-FIVE CANDIDATES have declared as of 4 p.m. Friday to run for the open Rhode Island 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House. / AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE
THIRTY-FIVE CANDIDATES have declared as of 4 p.m. Friday to run for the open Rhode Island 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House. / AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

PROVIDENCE – As of late Friday afternoon, the field of candidates vying to succeed David N. Cicilline in the U.S. House became rather large.

Thirty-five candidates, comprised of 22 Democrats, nine independents and four Republicans, have officially declared their respective candidacies for the 1st Congressional District seat at the U.S. Capitol before Friday’s 4 p.m. declaration deadline. Twelve additional candidates declared since late Thursday afternoon, at which time 22 candidates formally threw their hats into the ring.

On the crowded Democrat side, former Gina M. Raimondo aide Nick Autiello, former state representative Aaron Regunberg, Michael A. Tillinghast and Walter Berbrick formally declared, as did former state representative candidate Spencer Dickinson, Kathleen Gaskell and Larry Hutchinson Jr.

Other notable Democratic candidates running include those who currently hold elective office, such as Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos; Rep. Marvin J. Abney, D-Newport; Sen Ana B. Quezada, D-Providence; Providence City Councilor John Goncalves; Sen. Sandra Cano, D-Pawtucket; and Rep. Stephen M. Casey, D-Woonsocket.

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C.D. Reynolds, Paul Rianna Jr., John D. Ritchie, Jeffrey E. Lemire and John S. Vitkevich are all running for Congress as independent candidates along with Joseph Jean-Philippe, Julian J. Smith, Richard P. O’Shea and Stephen G. Earle.

A fourth Republican, William J. LeBron Jr., is seeking the congressional seat, as are former Middletown town councilor Terri Flynn, Gerry W. Leonard Jr. and Gary D. Fagnant. Ronald K. Machtley, the former Bryant University president, was the last Republican to hold the 1st Congressional District seat for Rhode Island from 1989 through 1995.

As of now, primary elections would be needed for both the Republican and Democratic races on Sept. 5 – the special general election is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Each candidate is also required to collect 500 signatures to be eligible for the ballot by July 14. Plus, fundraising will be needed for candidates to be competitive in the race, although campaign spending is expected to be lower in this special election than during normal elections.

Only four candidates remaining in the race have raised funds for their campaigns through March 31. Matos has raised the most as of the end of March at $126,782, followed by Cano [$122,640], Autiello [$104,330] and Goncalves [$39,549]. Rep. Nathan W. Biah, D-Providence, who has dropped out of the race, raised $310 as of March 31.

The June 30 campaign finance forms are due to the FEC on July 15.

Cicilline, a former Providence mayor, had served in Congress for 11 years before stepping down to become the Rhode Island Foundation’s next CEO and president.

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

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