Rhode Island

Democrat Cicilline wins Kennedy seat

By Michelle R. Smith
Associated Press / November 3, 2010

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PROVIDENCE — Democrat David Cicilline won the Rhode Island congressional seat being vacated by retiring Representative Patrick Kennedy, preventing the Republicans from grabbing a trophy race a few months after Scott Brown took the Senate seat that had been held for decades by Kennedy’s father, Edward M. Kennedy, in Massachusetts.

Cicilline, the openly gay mayor of Providence, beat Republican state Representative John Loughlin, 51 percent to 44 percent, in the race for First Congressional District seat that Kennedy has held for eight terms.

The 49-year-old Cicilline touted his record running the city of Providence, where he was elected mayor in 2002 after years of corruption in the administration of Buddy Cianci.

Kennedy announced that he would not run again in February.

In the Rhode Island’s gubernatorial race, Lincoln Chafee edged out Republican John Robitaille. Chafee will be the first independent to become governor.

Chafee had just under 36 percent of the vote, and Robitaille had 34 percent in the race to replace term-limited Don Carcieri. Democratic General Treasurer Frank Caprio finished third, with about 23 percent.

Caprio lost ground after saying last week that President Obama could “shove it’’ for not endorsing him. Caprio had endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential primary.

Chafee is a former Republican US senator who left the party in 2007, a year after losing reelection. He had endorsed Obama in the 2008 primary.

Chafee’s acting campaign manager, Mike Trainor, said Democratic General Treasurer Frank Caprio and Moderate Party candidate Ken Block, who finished fourth, had called to concede.

Cicilline raised more than $1.6 million for his run, according to campaign-finance reports filed in mid-October, while Loughlin raised just more than $600,000.

Loughlin was helped with TV ads, campaign mailers, and robocalls by a group called Americans for Common Sense Solutions, which made several questionable or false claims about Cicilline in the final days of the campaign.

Loughlin ran virtually unopposed in his primary, but Cicilline faced an expensive four-way race that included several TV attack ads aimed at the mayor’s time in Providence.

Cicilline, 49, ran as the man who has a proven record of getting things done.

He was first elected in 2002 after years of corruption in the administration of Buddy Cianci, who was serving time in federal prison by the time Cicilline was sworn in.

But Loughlin, 51, went after the mayor’s record, saying Cicilline had failed in his leadership of the city. He complained that the city’s finances were in bad shape and said the mayor couldn’t get the basics done, like filling potholes. He said the city’s streets looked like “driving around in Baghdad.’’

He also ran TV ads trying to tie Cicilline to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Loughlin, the House minority whip, is one of a handful of Republicans in the General Assembly. He spent 26 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve and owns a private media-consulting firm.

In the state’s other congressional district, Democratic incumbent Jim Langevin easily defeated Republican Mark Zaccaria, 60 percent to 32 percent.