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R.I. delegation, primary opponents endorse Magaziner for Congress

“The stakes in this election are incredibly high. ... The contrast in this general election could not be higher,” Magaziner said of the first competitive Rhode Island congressional race in a decade.

State Treasurer Seth Magaziner addresses supporters at the Johnston Democratic Town Committee headquarters Monday where Rhode Island's Democratic congressional delegation endorsed him for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by US Rep. James R. Langevin.Ryan T. Conaty for the Boston Gl

JOHNSTON — Flanked by the primary rivals he defeated last week and the congressional elected officials whose ranks he wants to join next year, state Treasurer Seth Magaziner on Monday rallied Democrats here as he pivoted to a high-profile November general election matchup.

Magaziner faces Republican former Cranston mayor Allan Fung in the November general election for the 2nd Congressional District seat, the first competitive Rhode Island congressional race in a decade. Speaking at the Johnston Democratic campaign headquarters in a strip mall on Atwood Avenue, Magaziner said electing Fung would empower “MAGA” Republicans — for Make America Great Again — and put abortion rights and Social Security at risk.


“The stakes in this election are incredibly high,” Magaziner said. “The contrast in this general election could not be higher.”

Officially, the event was to mark the endorsement of Magaziner by Rhode Island’s congressional delegation: US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and US Representative David Cicilline. US Representative Jim Langevin, the incumbent in the district who spent 22 years in Congress, endorsed Magaziner in his primary.

But Democrats endorsing one another is more or less a foregone conclusion. More important was the opportunity to preview the next seven weeks in the Magaziner-Fung showdown, which is already attracting national attention and major spending.

Among the attack lines: Fung might be a good guy, as some people say. If people think that, great — “send him a Christmas card, don’t send him to Congress,” Whitehouse said.

The location for Monday’s Democratic event was conspicuous. Though nominally a Democratic stronghold, Johnston backed former President Donald Trump in 2020 by 10 points over President Biden, and by 14 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016. The town also voted for Fung in his unsuccessful race to unseat then-Governor Gina Raimondo in 2018, as well as in their first matchup in 2014.


Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Sr. greets State Treasurer Seth Magaziner Monday at Johnston Democratic Town Committee headquarters.Ryan T. Conaty for the Boston Gl

Monday’s event brought together Democratic Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Sr., who had raised concerns about what he saw as a leftward push from Governor Dan McKee’s advisers, and David Segal, the Providence progressive who came in second to Magaziner in last week’s primary. Magaziner won 54 percent of the vote; Segal had 16 percent. On Monday, both Polisena and Segal offered their support.

“Under a Republican Congress, anything we might want to achieve will be stalled,” Segal said in an interview after.

Polisena, for his part, said Magaziner would ensure Social Security and Medicare are protected.

“And that’s very important to me at 68,” Polisena said.

Sarah Morgenthau, Joy Fox and Omar Bah, whom Magaziner also defeated in last week’s Democratic primary, were also in attendance.

So was Langevin, the man Magaziner wants to replace. He said he’s committed to electing Magaziner, and defeating Fung, whether or not he’s a nice guy.

“If he’s elected to the House of Representatives, make no mistake about it: Allan Fung will vote against Rhode Island’s working families,” Langevin said.

Brian Amaral can be reached at brian.amaral@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.