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We’ll learn a lot about the Republican primary for Congress in R.I. today

R.I. state Senator Jessica de la Cruz spoke at a rally of health care workers protesting the state's COVID-19 vaccine mandate last October.

Happy Wednesday! I’m Dan McGowan and I really need a new Buffalo wings spot ahead of the NCAA Tournament. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

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Rhode Island had 107.4 total new cases per 100K population in the past 7 days.

Vaccinated with two shots: 81.1 percent

Vaccinated with booster: 39.1 percent

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New cases: 177 (3.7 percent positive)

Currently hospitalized: 76

Total deaths: 3,423

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Leading off

If former Cranston mayor Allan Fung is the Providence Friars of the Republican primary in Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, state Senator Jessica de la Cruz is hoping that she can be South Dakota State – a trendy upset pick who can catch the favorite sleeping.

De la Cruz is scheduled to formally kick off her campaign to succeed retiring US Representative James Langevin at 11 a.m. at 39 West in Cranston, the home of primary opponents Fung and former state representative Robert Lancia.

Fung is better known and better funded, but de la Cruz is hoping to catch fire with the more conservative wing of the party. Can she compete? Here’s a quick look at her path to victory.

Use the Senate seat to grab attention

If she’s not able to raise as much money as Fung, de la Cruz has to find creative ways to get in front of a lot of voters at once. So far, she’s succeeding. With gas prices soaring, she has advocated for a freeze on the state’s gas tax, which is 34 cents a gallon. She’s the only sitting elected official in the primary, and while Republicans have little control over how things play out at the State House, she still has a microphone that will allow her to essentially campaign from the Senate floor.

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Catch Fung thinking about Treasurer Magaziner

There’s a lot of grumbling on the Democratic side that state Treasurer Seth Magaziner is looking ahead to a general election matchup with Fung rather focusing on his crowded primary. The same argument can be applied on the Republican side. If Fung is trying to put himself in the best position to win the general election, he may not want to engage with more conservative opponents in his primary. He doesn’t want to utter former president Donald Trump’s name in this race, which gives de la Cruz the ability to carve out that path for herself.

Narrow the score in Cranston and Warwick

It’s not easy to win a Republican primary without putting up strong numbers in the state’s second and third-largest cities, and de la Cruz is at a disadvantage because Fung is extremely popular in Cranston and fairly popular in Warwick. But she understands that she can’t concede those cities, and she’s smart to be holding her kickoff in Fung’s backyard. If Fung runs up the score in Cranston and Warwick, it will be difficult to win.

The Globe in Rhode Island

⚓ My latest column: Gina Raimondo was back in town on Tuesday to speak at Brown, but two key pieces of her legacy in Rhode Island are in peril. Read more.

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⚓ In her speech, Raimondo said that sanctions against Russia will continue and will not stop until President Vladimir Putin stops his “unprovoked war” against Ukraine. Read more.

⚓ Has US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse finally ended daylight saving time? Read more.

⚓ A lawyer for former North Kingstown basketball players who claim they were subject to “naked fat testing” by former coach Aaron Thomas said a new report on Thomas is “a shocking indictment of the mismanagement by school administrators.” Read more.

⚓ Standing in the fourth oldest statehouse in the US, Cox Communications’ national president Mark Greatrex looked to the future Tuesday when he announced the company would make a $120 million investment in broadband in Rhode Island. Read more.

Also in the Globe

⚓ Scores of renters in Greater Boston are battling to find a place, any place, to live these days. Rents have surged to record highs after the COVID-19 pandemic sent rents to lows the area hasn’t seen in years, and a slew of factors are making Boston’s always-challenging apartment market even more frenetic. Read more.

⚓ The Federal Reserve is set to deliver its initial dose of medicine to treat the fast-spreading economic infection of inflation, and Americans should brace for the side effects of higher interest rates. Read more.

Dan Shaughnessy writes from Fort Myers, where the media finally has inside access to Red Sox players again. Read more.

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What’s on tap today

E-mail events to us at RInews@globe.com.

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

⚓ At 6:30 p.m., Ed Fitzpatrick is on a virtual panel discussing media literacy and combating fake news. The event is hosted by Preserve Rhode Island.

⚓ Bryant University men’s basketball takes on Wright State in its first game of the NCAA Tournament at 6:40 p.m. on truTV. The winner plays Arizona on Friday.

⚓ The House Labor Committee meets at 4 p.m. to discuss multiple minimum wage-related bills.

My previous column

Ed Cooley overcame long odds as a kid growing up in South Providence. Now his scrappy Friars are following their coach’s lead. If you missed the column, you can read it here. And all of my columns are on our Rhode Island Commentary page.

Rhode Island Report podcast

Ed Fitzpatrick talks to Aminullah Faqiry, a front-line Afghan interpreter who worked with the US military for nearly 12 years. Listen to all of our podcasts 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.

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