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CD1 special election: Who is in and who is out

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Raymond Baccari

Editor-in-Chief

Photo via Ramaz Bluashvili/Pexels

Editor's note: A previous version of this story listed Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera and 2022 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, Aaron Guckian, listed as candidates exploring a run. Both have since opted out of running for this seat.


It has been a little over a month since Rep. David Cicilline announced he is stepping down from Congress in June. Since then, several candidates have announced their candidacy, have filed or are exploring a run for the special election happening later this year. Day by day, the list of who is running and who is not continues to expand.


At the time of publication, eight candidates, all Democrats, have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for this seat. This list of candidates who have filed includes:


  • Providence Ward 1 City Councilman John Goncalves.

  • State Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8).

  • Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos.

  • Allen Waters, who ran as the GOP nominee for this seat in 2022.

  • Nick Autiello, a former senior aide for Gov. Raimondo’s Commerce department.

  • Mickeda Barnes.

  • Aaron Regunberg, a former state legislator who ran for lieutenant governor in 2018.

  • And State Rep. Nathan Biah (D-Dist. 3).


Regunberg, although filing, said he’s still in the exploring phase of a campaign.


“Some news: I'm exploring a run for Congress,” Regunberg said in a statement. “Congressman Cicilline led the charge on a number of critical progressive issues, and I think there's a ton of people in our district who want to make sure that our next representative will be that same kind of progressive fighter -- someone who we know will take on corporate power and fight for urgent climate action. There's a lot of work to do to see if a run makes sense, but we built a broad coalition in 2018, and I'm looking forward to having a bunch of conversations to see if there's excitement for a strong progressive campaign for this seat.”


Regunberg added that he hopes to have a decision within the next week or two.


Stephanie Beauté, who ran for secretary of state in 2022, announced she is running, but has not filed yet. State Sen. Ana Quezada (D-Dist. 2) is also running for the seat.


Several more names are expected to run, are weighing their options or are actively exploring the possibility.


State Rep. Stephen Casey (D-Dist. 50), who is also a firefighter for the city of Woonsocket, is expected to announce his candidacy for the seat. Both State Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13) and State Sen. Meghan Kallman are also exploring campaigns for this special election.


A few mayors from municipalities in the district are still in the process of making a final decision on if they’ll run.


A spokesperson for Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien told The Anchor that “The Mayor is still weighing out his options.” As for a timeline, the spokesperson said Grebien’s intention “is to make a decision at least by the end of April.”


East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva said shortly after Cicilline’s announcement, “I will have to sit down with family, friends and supporters, but you know what they say - you never say never.” DaSilva is still actively considering a run.


Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera was one of the first elected officials to put out a statement following Cicilline’s announcement saying she was weighing a run for this seat. Rivera put out a statement Monday announcing she won't be running for the seat.


"I am sharing today that I will not be running for Congress in the upcoming special election," Rivera said. "My energy and time is needed most in our city right now and I am compelled to continue building the city, state, and national partnerships necessary for the comeback and transformation of Central Falls."


Several high-profile names in Rhode Island politics who were looking at a run have since opted out. This list includes House Speaker Joe Shekarchi, former gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes and former State Sen. Cynthia Mendes, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2022.


Currently, no Republican has filed to run. Aaron Guckian, the 2022 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, was exploring a campaign, but is no longer going to run for this seat.


There is a strong possibility of an independent candidate running. Arlene Violet, a former Republican attorney general of Rhode Island, is seriously considering running as an independent. Violet said this news Friday during a taping of Rhode Island PBS’s “A Lively Experiment.”


Voters in this district will head to the polls for the Democratic and Republican primaries on Sept. 5, with the general election scheduled for Nov. 7.

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