fb-pixelDavid Cicilline’s real political battle begins - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

David Cicilline’s real political battle begins

The representative from Rhode Island is running for assistant speaker, the No. 4 job in U.S. House Democratic leadership, against US Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts

Representative David Cicilline a Democrat from Rhode Island and chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Photographer: Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner/BloombergGraeme Jennings/Bloomberg

If you have friends or relatives who would like their own free copy of this daily briefing about Rhode Island, tell them they can sign up here.


Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I can’t wait to watch the Knicks begin their return to greatness at tonight’s NBA draft. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 44,528 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after adding 605 new cases. The overall daily test-positive rate was 6.2 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 19.3 percent. The state announced eight more deaths, bringing the total to 1,278. There were 265 people in the hospital.


US Representative David Cicilline won reelection earlier this month with more than 70 percent of the vote, but his true political future in Congress could be settled as soon as today.

Cicilline is running for assistant speaker, the No. 4 job in House Democratic leadership, against US Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts. The Democratic caucus is scheduled to meet virtually and hold elections over the next two days, with votes taking place using an app.

The race is considered significant because the top three leaders in the House – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Majority Whip James Clyburn – are all in their 80s and are at least beginning to think about their successors.

Those following the race have labeled Clark as the favorite, but Cicilline has the endorsement of the House Equality Caucus (which he co-chairs) and the Human Rights Campaign. He’s also been retweeting endorsements from several colleagues – including US Representative James Langevin – over the last week.

The Democrats kept control of the House, but lost several members earlier this month, and the election results have led to a squabble within the party between moderates and progressives about the path forward. In a video message to his colleagues, Cicilline made the case that he is prepared to bring the Democrats together.


“This is a time to heal the divisions in our caucus so we can heal the divisions in our country,” Cicilline, who is considered a pragmatic progressive, said.

Cicilline has seen his star rise in Congress in recent years, and he spent the last year leading the House’s investigation into the world’s largest technology companies. A victory in this race would fuel speculation that he’ll one day seek the speakership, a position no Rhode Islander has ever held.

Back at home, there’s another factor to consider. Rhode Island is at risk of losing one of its two House seats as a result of the Census, which could lead to a heavyweight political matchup in 2022 between Cicilline and Langevin (Langevin hasn’t ruled out a run for governor in two years). If he rises to assistant speaker, Cicilline would likely have an advantage in that race.


⚓ Governor Gina Raimondo has so far avoided a second shut down of the economy, but as COVID-19 cases skyrocket, she is facing pressure to reign things in. Read more.

⚓ Is Rhode Island finally ready to legalize marijuana? Ed Fitzpatrick reports a budget shortfall has made the proposal sound more appealing. Read more.


⚓ Here’s a nice profile on Larry O’Brien, who runs the Providence Laughter Club. Read more.

⚓ As Rhode Island works with Pfizer on a COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that as many as 20 million people could get coronavirus vaccinations before the new year. Read more.


Opinion: The Globe’s editorial board urges Americans to keep their distance during Thanksgiving. Read more.

POTUS: My colleague Liz Goodwin reports that President-elect Joe Biden’s team has been blocked from coordinating with the federal government’s civil servants who are planning a massive vaccination campaign. Read more.

Politics: The Globe’s James Pindell explains why Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is more likely to be tapped to join the Biden administration than US Senator Elizabeth Warren. Read more.

Books: Here’s the Globe’s review of former President Barack Obama’s new book. Read more.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ The commission studying Rhode Island’s Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights is holding a virtual meeting at 3 p.m.


⚓ The Senate Finance Committee meets at 5 p.m. to discuss Governor Raimondo’s proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

⚓ The Gordon School is hosting a virtual discussion with psychologist and author Howard C. Stevenson on racial literacy strategies in schools.

⚓ The Providence Preservation Society’s 2020 Symposium continues at 5:30 p.m. with a discussion on iconic places that should have been preserved, why they weren’t, and what that does to a community.

⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.Please tell your friends about Rhode Map! They can sign up here. The Globe has other e-mail newsletters on topics ranging from breaking news alerts to sports, politics, business, and entertainment -- check them out.

Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him @danmcgowan.