Perhaps Jim Langevin will be remembered most for his courage.

An 11-term Congressman from Rhode Island’s second district, he announced today, at the age of 57, that he would not run for reelection.

Things might have turned out differently, had he not been severely injured in an accidental shooting when he was just 16.

The injuries were so severe, he would never walk again, and would never be able to pursue his dream of becoming a policeman. The details are well known. He was at Warwick Police Headquarters as part of a boy scout program when a gun went off accidentally.

Instead of giving up, Langevin went on to Rhode Island College and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he earned a master’s degree.

He would run to be a delegate to Rhode Island’s 1986 Constitutional Convention, and two years later was elected to the state House of Representatives. He served in the House for six years before running and winning Secretary of State, earning a reputation for weeding out corruption in government. He won the second Congressional seat in November 2000. 

“The story of Jim Langevin will forever be remembered as one of perseverance and a dedication to public service,” said Congressman David Cicilline, who represents Rhode Island’s first district. “It is one that will inspire our colleagues in government today and the future leaders of our state and nation for generations to come,” 

“Jim was well ahead of the curve, warning the nation about the need to shore up our cyber defenses long before that threat was widely understood,” said Rhode Island U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  “Over and over, Jim has delivered for Rhode Islanders. And for people living with disabilities, Jim is an icon whose success and grace are an example that means a lot throughout the world.”

Throughout my career, as a journalist in print, and now here with WhatsUpNewp and on radio, I’ve come to know Jim Langevin. I have always admired him for his courage, his decency. Whether I’ve run into him on an airplane flight somewhere, at an event or in a local restaurant, he has always been gracious. 

A strong advocate for cybersecurity, he remains an incredible advocate for the disabled. He inspires by his own successes, his courage, persistence.

Whether you agreed or not with one or any of his political positions, you never questioned his courage, or his integrity.

So now comes the speculation. Who will fill the seat? The names have already been trickling out. Among them, Speaker of the House Joseph Shekarchi, State Sen. Joshua Miller, and even speculation that perhaps former Governor and U.S. Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo might be interested. 

On the Republican side, Robert Lancia, a former state legislator, has already declared his candidacy. Also mentioned, former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who has indicated he wants to run for state Treasurer, and state Rep. Blake Filippi, serving Block Island, Charlestown and parts of South Kingstown and Westerly.

Filippi has already explored a possible run for governor, hiring a high-profile Republican consultant from Virginia, but ruled that out. Could his exploration also include his chances in a Congressional race?

Shekarchi, who has amassed an election fund of nearly $1.5 million (as of Sept. 30, 2021 campaign finance filing), can’t touch any of that in a run for federal office. Federal campaign finance law prohibits candidates for federal office from transferring funds from state campaign accounts to federal accounts.

Langevin, who, as of the last September, had nearly $1 million in his campaign account, cannot transfer any of those funds to a state campaign, according to Rhode Island election laws.

What happens next for Langevin? In his words: “I have not come to this decision lightly, but it is time for me to chart a new course, which will allow me to stay closer to home and spend more time with my family and friends. And while I don’t know what’s next for me just yet, whatever I do will always be in service of Rhode Island.”

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Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal....