Who’s running, who’s not? Changes every day, and will continue to change over the next several weeks, as individuals weigh their prospects to replace Congressman David Cicilline, who announced his retirement from Congress a few weeks ago to assume the presidency of the Rhode Island Foundation.
It’s great fun for pundits, and you really can’t lose from speculating. So, before we get to what we know, let’s get to what’s important.
It’s a little disconcerting when we read, hear, or see news outlets touting how much money a state or local politician has in their campaign account. That money simply doesn’t count. You cannot use money in a state campaign account for a run at federal office. Nor can you use money raised for a federal campaign for a run for state or local office.
The latest report in a couple of news outlets said that House Finance Chair Marvin Abney, a Democrat who represents Middletown and Newport, is considering a run for Congress and had nearly $240,000 in his campaign account. All true, but the only way Abney could use any part of the $240,000 is to refund contributions and ask the individuals to then re-donate the money to his federal campaign fund. No guarantees.
Money raised and reported to the RI Board of Elections can only be used to cover campaign expenses, for use in another statewide or local campaign, returned to donors, contributed to charity or another candidate for state or local office.
It’s also important to note that candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives are not required to live in the district in which they are running, only in the state. In this past election, Congressman Seth Magaziner did not live in the second district at the outset of the campaign but moved there during the campaign. So that opens up all kinds of possibilities for the first Congressional seat.
Here’s who has reportedly declared: former Commerce Corporation official, Nick Autiello of Providence; state Rep. Nathan Biah, D-Providence, principal at Dr. Joyce Alverez High School in Providence (for the record, he has $5,416 in his campaign account); Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (she has $488 in her campaign account); state Senator Sandra Cano, D-Pawtucket ($28,186 in her account); and Allen Waters.
Waters is a most interesting candidate, running as a Democrat, after a string of losses as a Republican in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He’s run for state Senate , U.S. Senate, and House of Representatives, losing last November to Representative Cicilline, with about 36 percent of the vote.
On his website, Waters says he’s a “middle-class family man with blue-collar roots” and ready for the challenges faced everyday by individuals in Woonsocket, Westerly, Pawtucket, Portsmouth or Providence. Westerly is not in the first Congressional district.
And, of course, there’s the wild speculation about anyone who might be a candidate. We’ve heard that Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera might consider a run (for the record, $35,137 in her state and local campaign fund), and there, of course, has been speculation about former Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in the last election. She has not responded to WhatsUpNewp, asking about a possible run for Congress.
And among those who say they are not interested in the seat are former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, who finished a close second to Gov. Dan McKee in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, and House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Warwick (for the record a little more than $1.7 million in his state campaign account, before recent fundraisers).
So, as they say, let the games begin.