3rd RI Democrat announces campaign for Congress

By Michelle R. Smith
Associated Press Writer / May 12, 2010

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I.—A third Democrat jumped into the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, as state Rep. David Segal announced Wednesday that he would run for Congress, saying he would focus on expanding green jobs, standing up to Wall Street interests and working to reform campaign finance laws.

Segal, 30, a liberal who represents parts of Providence and East Providence, acknowledged that his two opponents for the party nomination -- Providence Mayor David Cicilline and former Democratic Party Chairman Bill Lynch -- have better name recognition.

They also have a huge advantage in campaign cash. Cicilline had $713,000 cash on hand as of the end of March and Lynch had about $210,000, according to federal filings.

Noting that he does not have a personal fortune to bankroll a run, Segal said he would run a grass-roots campaign dependent on small contributions from individual donors in the mold of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. He cited his eight years of experience as an elected official -- first as a Green Party member of the Providence City Council, then as a Democrat in the part-time Legislature.

"I think my record stands side by side with theirs," he said of Cicilline and Lynch.

A 2001 graduate of Columbia University elected to the House in 2006, Segal is a part-time paralegal for a fellow House member and previously worked as a math teacher and for a nonprofit group before he got laid off during the recession.

"I have cobbled together a living," he said, adding that he works more than a full workweek on his legislative duties.

Segal said he would serve out the remainder of his House term.

He touted his work in strengthening protections against banks that engage in predatory lending and for people facing foreclosure.

"Rhode Islanders deserve someone in Congress who will stand up for working families and take on powerful interests," he said. "Too many working families have been let down in recent years by institutions they trusted."

Wendy Schiller, a political scientist at Brown University, said Segal has built a visible career in a short period, but it's unlikely to be enough to persuade voters to choose him over Cicilline or Lynch. Still, she said, he might have a shot at winning the September primary if Lynch and Cicilline split the vote, or he might be trying to lay the groundwork for a future run for office.

"He's a pretty ambitious guy," Schiller said. "There's a long history in Rhode Island of politicians running and losing before they win."

Kennedy announced in February that he would not run for re-election for his seat in the 1st Congressional District, just a few months after the death of his father, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. The Republican candidate for the seat, state Rep. John Loughlin, had about $188,000 as of the end of March.

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