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Republican Allan Fung launches his campaign for Congress

Former Cranston mayor describes himself as a problem solver and unifier but criticizes progressive policies and leaders

Former Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung addresses his supporters while announcing his campaign for the Rhode Island 2nd Congressional District at the Varnum Armory in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

EAST GREENWICH, R.I. — Former Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung, a Republican, on Tuesday officially launched his campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat that Democratic US Representative James R. Langevin is vacating.

Fung, who lost the state’s last two gubernatorial races to former Governor Gina M. Raimondo, presented himself as a moderate Republican who would solve problems and offer an alternative to “hyper-partisan politicians.”

“In Cranston, I worked across party lines, and beyond ideological differences, to transform a city that was once on the brink of financial ruin into one of the Top 50 Cities to Live in America,” said Fung, who was mayor from 2009 to 2020. “We didn’t do this by digging ourselves into deeper ideological trenches. but by extending our hands to our neighbors and lifting each other up.”

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But during a speech at the Varnum Memorial Armory, Fung also took aim at Democrats, criticizing progressive policies and leaders.

“To check inflation, we need to put a stop to the insane progressive spending,” he said. “Does the Presidio Park in (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s home district really need $200 million? We need adults in the room who can prioritize and say no to this nonsense, much like I did when I came on board in Cranston.”

Former Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung addresses his supporters while announcing his campaign for the Rhode Island 2nd Congressional District at the Varnum Armory in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Fung presented himself as tough on crime, saying Cranston kept order during protests over the death of George Floyd in 2020 and when groups of ATV riders tried to enter the city.

“When rioters tried to come to Cranston in 2020, we said: Not here. Not now. Not ever,” he said. “I stood alongside my police officers as we guarded the local business district, and then again as we stopped the ATV gangs from entering our city and terrorizing our residents.”

On the national level, “we see progressive policies that are weak on crime, with rioting in our streets, and human trafficking and fentanyl pouring across our porous borders,” Fung said. “We see progressive leaders that protect looters more than small business owners.”

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On energy issues, Fung zeroed in on high gas prices, saying, “Every time we head to the gas pump, we think to ourselves — this is going to cost me the same amount to get to work this week as it would for a filet mignon dinner at Capital Grille.”

He called for increasing domestic oil and national gas production, saying, “We must tap into sources like our drilled but uncompleted wells and get the domestic supply back into the market.” He also called for supporting “properly sited renewable energy projects,” such as the solar panels placed at an old landfill in Cranston, and wind turbines “that are not disrupting our precious fishing industry.”

“We can do more than one thing at a time,” Fung said, “and we can become energy independent once again.”

Former Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung reads over his speech prior to announcing his campaign for the Rhode Island 2nd Congressional District at the Varnum Armory in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Fung, 52, grew up on the South Side of Providence, the son of immigrants who came to the United States from Hong Kong and opened the Kong Wen Restaurant. He graduated from Classical High School, Rhode Island College, and Suffolk University Law School.

He is married to state Representative Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, a Cranston Republican who defeated former House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello in the 2020 race in House District 15.

Fung had been gearing up to run for state treasurer, but he jumped into the 2nd Congressional District race after Langevin, who has been in Congress since 2001, announced in January that he won’t run for re-election this year.

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In the Republican primary, Fung will face former state Representative Robert B. Lancia, of Cranston. The latest Federal Election Commission reports show Fung has $532,482 in his campaign account while Lancia has $39,556.

State Senator Jessica de la Cruz, a North Smithfield Republican, had announced she would run for the 2nd Congressional District seat, but she dropped out of the race a day before filing a campaign finance report that showed she had $83,488 in her campaign account. She has endorsed Fung.

The winner of the GOP contest on Sept. 13 will face whoever emerges from a Democratic primary that includes state treasurer Seth Magaziner, former Biden administration official Sarah E. Morgenthau, former state representative David A. Segal, former Langevin communications director Joy Fox, Refugee Dream Center founder Omar Bah, Providence Fire Department Lt. Cameron Moquin, and health analyst Michael Neary.

Even before Fung’s announcement began on Tuesday, the Magaziner campaign had issued a statement saying, “The very first vote Allan Fung would cast in Congress would be to make Kevin McCarthy speaker of the House so he can push an extreme right-wing agenda that would hurt Rhode Islanders by privatizing Social Security, cutting Medicare and repealing the Affordable Care Act.”

The Magaziner campaign also highlighted a photo that shows Fung wearing a Trump hat at former President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

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Fung told reporters, “Do you know why Democrats are going to be rolling out that picture? Because they are scared. They are scared. They are not focused on what is on the minds of the voters in the 2nd Congressional District. They want to use scare tactics like that photo.”

But, he said, “I’m standing strong, asking the people to support me. And I’m going to have people in this district you saw out there that are Trump supporters. But most importantly, you also have disenchanted Biden supporters that are in that crowd, too, that was here today that are part of the 2nd Congressional District.”

Fung said that during his 12 years as mayor he “worked across the aisle to make sure we got things done for the residents of Cranston.” And, he said, “That is what I’m going to do not just for the residents of District 2 but all of Rhode Island and our country. We have to get back on our feet right now.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a statement, saying, “Fung is a Trump supporter and enabler, who would empower and enable a Republican Party hell bent on attacking our schools, criminalizing abortion, and violently overthrowing elections.”

When asked if he would support the Republican leadership, Fung told reporters, “I support a lot of the Republican leadership’s policies and agenda they are putting out. It fits in line with what I’m hoping to do — to reduce gas prices, reduce a lot of the inflation that’s really hitting in our pocket, getting groceries back into our store shelves, getting those costs down.”

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Those attending Tuesday’s announcement included Cranston Mayor Kenneth J. Hopkins, Warwick Mayor Frank J. Picozzi, Rhode Island Republican Party chairwoman Sue Cienki, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ashley Kalus.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him @FitzProv.