As Incumbents, Rhode Island Candidates Run for Congress Langevin Will Not Run for Re-Election |Viral Updates!
Following the announcement that long-term Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) will not run for re-election in the 2022 midterm elections, several candidates have entered the race for Rhode Island’s second congressional district, which includes parts of western Rhode Island and Providence.
Democrats Seth Magaziner ’06, Omar Bah, and Ed Pacheco all declared candidacies in the days following Langevin’s announcement on January 19. Republican Robert Lancia is running in the Republican primary against State Senator Jessica de la Cruz.
The three Democratic candidates framed the race as part of a critical fight for democracy across the country in press releases and communications with The Herald, citing recent events such as former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, the Jan. 6 insurgency at the U.S. Capitol, and current Republican efforts in states across the country to make voting requirements more restrictive.
“I believe the most sacred battle of our generation is in Washington,” Magaziner, Rhode Island’s current general treasurer, wrote in an email to The Herald. Following Langevin’s announcement, Magaziner suspended his bid for governor in order to declare his candidacy for the second district seat.
“It is critical that we keep this seat blue and that Rhode Island does its part to prevent national Republicans… from undermining democracy and rolling back progress,” he wrote.
Other candidates emphasize the importance of preserving democracy in the same way. “We live in a very dangerous time,” Bah told The Herald in an interview. According to the center’s website, Bah is the founder of the Refugee Dream Center, a nonprofit organization that provides extensive aid and services to refugees in the Ocean State. Bah, who fled repression and torture as a journalist in The Gambia before coming to Rhode Island, is also a member of the Watson Institute’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies’ advisory board.
“We can’t be blind to the fact that democracy is under attack,” Bah said. “I have witnessed the dangers of dictatorships… and what they can do to a nation’s and its people’s very existence. And because I’ve done it before, I’ll fight to protect this country’s democracy.”
Pacheco, a former member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives and former chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party, told The Herald that the first few weeks of the race were “kind of a blur.”
“Everyone, including myself, was taken aback by Congressman Langevin’s announcement,” he said.
Republican candidate Robert Lancia, a former state House member, agreed, writing in an email to The Herald that “Jim Langevin’s retirement announcement came as a shock not only to myself, as his only competitor at the time, but also to the entire state of Rhode Island.”
De la Cruz did not respond to The Herald’s multiple requests for comment.
Education was mentioned by all four candidates interviewed by The Herald as one of their top policy priorities.
“Education is a right for all Americans, and… all Americans, regardless of zip code, deserve access to high-quality education,” Pacheco said. As key policy measures that could help improve the state’s education system, he emphasized the importance of ensuring universal access to pre-kindergarten education, expanding access to postsecondary and trade education, and forgiving student loans. “In this country, we need to have a serious conversation about the crushing financial debt that is being placed on younger generations,” he said.
Magaziner also emphasized the importance of universal pre-kindergarten and increased access to higher education, whereas Bah cited overcrowding and underfunding in Providence Public Schools while advocating for improvements to public K-12 education.
Lancia’s education policy goals have recently echoed Republican party values regarding educational curricula. “We must protect our children at all costs,” he said in an email to The Herald, adding that he believes in “parents’ right to have their children educated in relation to their religious and/or political views.”
“With an overwhelming majority of property taxes going to the public education system, (parents’) taxes come with opinions, and their voices must be heard,” he wrote.
Lancia wrote in response to his Democratic opponents’ promises to act on a federal level to protect voting rights, “simply put, we should not be federalizing elections.”
“While Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Jim Langevin have supported this federal takeover of elections,” he wrote, “even members of their own party have dismissed the efforts,” referring to conservative Democratic senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
“I was raised by a single mother who taught me the value of a good education and hard work,” Pacheco, who grew up in Burrillville, said. He cited his family’s receipt of food stamps and federal housing assistance as reasons for his dedication to education and support for working families.
Meanwhile, Bah stated that his own experiences as a refugee, as well as his work at the Refugee Dream Center assisting other refugees, have given him a better understanding of the challenges that working-class Americans face.
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