PROVIDENCE – David Cicilline, a Democrat who's been in Congress for a dozen years, has won a seventh term, beating Republican Allen Waters by a wide margin in Tuesday's general election.
Cicilline took home 64% of the vote to 36% for Waters, according to results from the Board of Elections.
Cicilline, 61, ran his first race for the House in 2010 after Patrick J. Kennedy announced his retirement. The two-term Providence mayor won the seat over Republican John Loughlin with just 51% of the vote. That would be Cicilline’s closest race.
He’s represented Rhode Island’s 1st congressional district ever since, beating off challengers by ever-increasing margins of victory. Along the way, he’s taken on a higher profile in Washington, as chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, a senior position in party leadership in the House, and as a manager in the second impeachment trial of former President Trump following the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
Cicilline has become a leader in efforts to regulate big technology companies, such as Facebook and Amazon. He’s also gained more responsibility on international issues. In September, he was selected to lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism.
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Waters, a 66-year-old retired financial adviser from Providence, was in his fourth attempt at elected office. After two short-lived campaigns for Senate in Massachusetts, he moved back to Providence in 2019, to the house in the West End where he grew up. The independent-turned-Republican ran a shoestring campaign against Sen. Jack Reed the next year, and it was no surprise when he lost the race with only 33 percent of the vote.
Complicating matters in that race, he lost the endorsement of the Rhode Island Republican Party over an alleged domestic assault for which the charges were eventually dropped. Despite what happened then, this time around, the party endorsed Waters in his bid to unseat Cicilline.
Waters drew attention for making comments during a radio interview about Cicilline, who is openly gay, that were perceived by some as homophobic. In a follow-up post on Twitter that was later taken down, Waters wrote, “I never had sex with another man.”
Waters told the Journal that he’s not homophobic, saying, “It might not be what I want to do. I don’t think it’s wrong if someone else wants it.”
The race, otherwise, was fairly quiet, with both candidates focusing on their individual messages rather than each other.
In an interview last month, Cicilline said he’s learned over the past dozen years how to get things done in Congress for Rhode Island. The federal relief plan crafted in response to the Covid pandemic emphasized to him the power that the government has to benefit people’s lives.
“When COVID began, we got thousands of phone calls of people just desperate, who were about to lose their homes, who were losing their jobs,” he said. “Having the ability to fight and help shape a rescue package in response to that was the most gratifying.”
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Election 2022: David Cicilline wins reelection for RI house seat