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Two more candidates enter First Congressional District special election

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Raymond Baccari

Editor-in-Chief

Photo via Nick Autiello's campaign

Editor's note: A previous version of this story did not include a statement from Rep. Nathan Biah (D-Dist. 3) about his candidacy. A statement has since been sent out by Biah and included in this story.


The field of candidates to replace outgoing Rep. David Cicilline has gotten bigger.


The first of the two candidates who entered the race Tuesday is Democrat Nick Autiello, who is a former candidate for Rhode Island Senate District 5 and former senior aide for Gov. Raimondo’s Commerce department.


“Let’s continue sending a new generation to Washington who understands our community, understands what’s at stake for our country, and is ready to fight for the future Rhode Island deserves,” Autiello said in a statement Tuesday.


In his announcement, Autiello, who was born in North Providence also highlights both his ties to Rhode Island as a fourth-generation Rhode Islander and prior experience in public service.


“I got into public service almost a decade ago to help rebuild Rhode Island after decades of decline that hurt families like mine, and as part of Governor Raimondo’s Commerce team I did just that,” Autiello said. “From working the overnight shift in the hospitality industry to working tirelessly to rebuild our state and address climate change with partners around the world, I have the experience to be a member of Congress who is in touch with Rhode Islanders’ needs and has the proven ability to work on tough issues and get results.”


In his 2018 campaign for Senate District 5, located in Providence, Autiello garnered 16.4% of the vote. Prior to this campaign,


Autiello has served on boards for the Providence Preservation Society, Rhode Island’s chapter of the National Organization for Women and the LGBTQ Victory Fund. He also is on Teach for Italy’s advisory board and was an advisor for Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign, focusing on economic and foreign policy.


Another Democrat has entered the race, State Rep. Nathan Biah (D-Dist. 3). Biah filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission.


Biah is currently in his second term as a state legislator, winning his first election in a Democratic primary versus then-Rep. Moira J. Walsh in 2020. He was unopposed in last year’s primary and general elections. Before entering politics, Biah is also principal for Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, located in Providence, and is an alumnus of Rhode Island College.


"I see first hand the challenges faced by Rhode Island’s children and families," Biah said in a statement. "Public schools are a microcosm of the issues faced by society as a whole, and I am running to fight for big, bold, innovative solutions to these major issues."


In his announcement, Biah also cited his knowledge of key issues he wants to address in Congress due to his jobs as both a principal and legislator.


"I have students trying to learn while coping with housing and food insecurity," Biah said. "Other students are struggling with ongoing mental health, trauma of gun violence or are terrified of deportation because they’re an undocumented immigrant. In my district I have elderly community members wondering how they will afford much needed medications and health care. I’ve been on the frontlines of these issues as a principal and State Representative. I’m running for Congress to fight for big, bold, solutions to these major issues."


Throughout the upcoming weeks, Biah plans to release his policy proposals, launch his campaign website and announce his campaign staff.


So far, alongside Biah and Autiello, State Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8), Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, Allen Waters and Mickeda Sebastiano Barnes, all Democrats, have filed to run.


Earlier this week, two other Democrats who were listed as potential candidates, former gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes and House Speaker Joe Shekarchi, have since announced they won’t be running.


Currently, no Republican candidate has filed to run for the seat. 2022 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, Aaron Guckian, announced on Twitter that he’s exploring a run for the seat.

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