Who's in and who's definitely out in scramble for Langevin's House of Representatives seat

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A view from the gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives.
A view from the gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives.

PROVIDENCE — The behind-the-scenes jockeying among potential candidates for U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin's soon-to-be open congressional seat went into high gear over the weekend.

By Sunday night, three of Dan McKee's announced challengers in the governor's race had issued statements saying they were not changing their minds and running for Congress instead, although state Treasurer Seth Magaziner left the door open by adding: "at this time."

Before that happened, Democratic Party sources told The Journal:

Magaziner, the fundraising leader in the race for governor, had reportedly made a round of calls to his backers saying he was indeed switching gears and running for Congress. (Magaziner has not denied the report.)

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and her team reportedly made a full-out effort to recruit Magaziner's backers to her campaign for governor. (Gorbea spokswoman Dana Walton confirms: "As rumors built up and we received persistent reports of the possibility of him leaving the governor's race, she called a few people to ask for their support should he make the jump to Congress.")

And former CVS executive Helena Buonano Foulkes — whose family has a long-standing relationship with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — resisted calls from top-ranked party leaders to run for Congress instead of governor. (Foulkes has not denied the report.)

The good, the bad, the memorable: An exit interview with US Rep. Jim Langevin

In the middle of all this frantic activity, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi reportedly got a call from the White House urging him to reconsider his own announced decision to forgo a run for Langevin's Second Congressional District seat. No dice, according to others familiar with the situation.

By Monday, the list of high-profile potential Democratic candidates was in flux, with the state's departing health director, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, being mentioned by The Public's Radio as a possible contender.

She has not personally confirmed the report, but issued this statement: "I’m currently weighing a number of different options for after I step away from the department that would allow me to continue working to give all people and all communities an equal opportunity to be healthy and thrive.”

And that's how Monday began, in a swirl of rumors about who's in and who's out.

What do we know?

Which Republicans are running for Rhode Island's House seat

Robert Lancia
Robert Lancia

On the Republican side, former Rep. Robert Lancia, who captured 41.5% of the vote when he ran against Langevin in 2020, is running again.

State Sen. Jessica de la Cruz, who lives in North Smithfield, just outside the Second Congressional District, confirmed Sunday night: "I'm running for CD2."

Jessica de la Cruz
Jessica de la Cruz

A big unknown: whether Cranston's former Republican Mayor Allan Fung, who carried the second district in his first run for governor against Gina Raimondo in 2014 and came close in 2018, will run for the open seat.

His wins included Cranston, wi the second-largest pool of voters in the district, which lies west of the Bay and includes part of Providence, all of South County and Kent County, and includes eight towns that went for Donald Trump in the last presidential election: Burrillville, Coventry, Johnston, Scituate, Glocester, Hopkinton, Exeter and Foster.

"I am taking a look at the entire chessboard and will take some time to thoughtfully think about this race,'' Fung told The Journal last week.

Which Democrats are running for Representitive Jim Langevin's seat?

On the Democratic side, Omar Bah, founder and CEO of the Refugee Dream Center, on Saturday became the first candidate to declare for the race.

Omar Bah
Omar Bah

“The main reason is I want to bring in a diverse identity in politics,” said Bah — a former African newspaper journalist who came to Rhode Island as a refugee, founded a local organization that helps refugees and later became a psychologist.

He was joined on Monday by former state Democratic Party chairman and state Rep. Edwin Pacheco.

Edwin Pacheco
Edwin Pacheco

“This is a pivotal moment in our country’s history," Pacheco wrote in a news release. "Every day it feels as though we are being pulled further apart and the very fabric of our democracy is under attack."

Who says they're not running

The list of top-tier candidates who say they are not running for the seat includes Shekarchi, Magaziner, Gorbea, Foulkes, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and former State Police Supt. Brendan Doherty, who ran for Congress once as a Republican.

On Sunday night, Foulkes issued this statement: “Over the past few days, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of phone calls I’ve received from Democrats across Rhode Island asking me to consider a run for Congress.

Shekarchi: 'No intention' to run for Langevin's Congressional seat

"I share their commitment to electing a strong Democratic candidate to serve our second congressional district and will do everything in my power to make that happen, but I will not be running for Congress myself.

"I’m running for governor because I believe my executive and leadership experience will allow me to get things done for Rhode Islanders. That is the role where I can make the most impact to improve people’s lives and unlock our state’s amazing potential."

Gorbea posted on Twitter: "I remain committed to ... partnering with our federal delegation as the state's next governor."

Magaziner left the door ajar with this statement: "I’m flattered by the many people who have encouraged me to consider running for Congress and I share their concern that Democrats need a strong candidate to hold the seat.

"While I feel I owe it to those who have reached out to consider the possibility, I also believe strongly in our campaign to bring strong economic leadership to the governor's office and remain in the race for governor at this time."

Who's thinking about running, but undecided

That leaves a lot of maybe candidates, including a number of past and present legislators.

That list includes Representatives Carol Hagan McEntee, Robert Craven, Joseph Solomon Jr., Thomas Noret and Teresa Tanzi on the House side; and Senators Joshua Miller and Sam Bell and former Sen. James Sheehan.

Tanzi on Monday told The Journal she is "still considering it."

Solomon Monday said Langevin's stepping down presented a "once in a lifetime opportunity" that he is "seriously thinking about."

Providence City Council President John Igliozzi is "weighing options," an aide said Monday.

Over the weekend, Joy Fox, who worked for both Langevin and former Gov. Gina Raimondo and is now running the Clarendon Group confirmed that she, too, is considering a run.

And she's not the only former Raimondo staffer in the mix.

Gabe Amo, who now works in the White House, is being mentioned as a possible candidate by people with ties to Raimondo and the state congressional delegation.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: U.S Rep. Langevin isn't running again. Here's who may take his seat

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