There are now two candidates who have filed to run for the soon-to-be-open First Congressional District. Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos officially announced her candidacy for the seat Monday.
“I’m running for Congress because Rhode Islanders deserve a champion who has a deep connection and commitment to the vibrant communities that make up our state,” Matos said in a statement. “We’re facing an important moment in Washington. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and continue fighting for the things that matter to Rhode Islanders: addressing affordable housing, protecting reproductive freedom, working to solve our climate crisis, and standing up to threats to our democracy.”
In her announcement, Matos also cited her experience as lieutenant governor and Providence’s City Council president.
“I’ve worked on these important issues and have led during challenging times in my years as President of the Providence City Council and as Lt. Governor,” Matos said. “I’m looking forward to talking with voters across the First District about putting my experience to work for them in Congress.”
Matos recently won a first, full four-year term as lieutenant governor in November. The lieutenant governor earned 51.2% of the vote versus Republican Aaron Guckian, who earned 43.1%, and independent Ross McCurdy, who earned 5.5%.
Before her time as lieutenant governor, Matos was president of the Providence City Council from 2019 to 2021, representing Ward 15.
Currently, only one other Democrat has filed to run for the seat: Allen Waters, the 2022 GOP nominee for Rhode Island’s First Congressional District. Waters switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrats in December.
Other potential candidates for the Democratic primary include Rhode Island Speaker of the House Joseph Shekarchi, Providence Ward 1 City Councilman John Goncalves, former CVS Executive and 2022 gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes. Several elected officials, former elected officials and former candidates for office have expressed interest in running.
At the time of publication, no Republican candidate has filed to run. Two Republicans who announced they are exploring a run include Guckian and Dana Traversie, the 2022 GOP nominee for Rhode Island House District 23.
The district itself leans Democratic, voting for President Joe Biden by 29 points in 2020.
A special election for this seat can’t be called until June 1, when Rep. David Cicilline formally resigns from Congress. That timeline gives two options or a primary and general election date: An Aug. 8 primary election followed by an Oct. 3 general election or a Sept. 5 primary election followed by a Nov. 7 general election.
Matos doesn’t currently live in the district, residing in Olneyville. However, in Rhode Island candidates are not required to live in the congressional district they are running for. Rep. Seth Magaziner lived in the First Congressional District during his 2022 campaign for the state’s Second Congressional District.
If Matos were to win the seat, Gov. Dan McKee would appoint a new lieutenant governor to serve out the rest of her term, making them eligible to run for two full terms in 2026 and 2030.
As is frequent in Rhode Island politics, there is a Rhode Island College connection that can be made. Matos is a proud RIC alumna, graduating from the college in 2001 and earning a Bachelor of Arts in communication.
Matos will formally launch her campaign in April.