PROVIDENCE — About an hour before the polls closed on Election Day, Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner said he knew the stakes in the race for Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District seat couldn’t be higher.
On every issue, “We are on the side of Rhode Islanders,” said Magaziner, who said he has felt confident in taking on his opponent Republican Allan W. Fung. ”[Voters] are going to choose to keep this seat in the Democratic column so we can continue sending Rhode Island values to Washington.”
In a race that has drawn national attention, former Cranston mayor Allan W. Fung and Magaziner, a Democrat, have gone head-to-head for months for the seat vacated by longtime US Representative James Langevin. In October, a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll showed Fung leading Democrat Seth Magaziner, which could mean flipping a seat that has been held by Democrats since the early 1990s. Approximately 13 percent of those who responded to the poll were still undecided.
For the last several months, Magaziner has beat the drum that this wasn’t just another election cycle, but a chance to salvage American democracy. The Republicans, he said, want to cut programs like Social Security and the Affordable Care Act, and place a national ban on abortion — crucial programs Magaziner said he knows concern Rhode Islanders.
Magaziner and his wife Julia McDowell cast their votes on the morning of Oct. 31 at the Pastore Youth Center in Cranston. Yet, he was hitting the sidewalks along several polling centers throughout Tuesday morning, from Glenn Hills Elementary School in Cranston, to the Johnston Housing Authority, to Club Jogues in Coventry.
At nearly every stop, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with members from his own party, like US Senator Jack Reed and Johnston Mayoral candidate Joseph Polisena Jr. On Election Night, a victory party for each of the major Democratic candidates, including Magaziner and incumbent Governor Dan McKee will be held at the Graduate Hotel in downtown Providence. The ballroom will be packed with press and political insiders to watch the results after the polls close at 8 p.m.
Despite Fung presenting himself as a moderate Republican, Magaziner has repeatedly poked holes in his opponent’s campaign, warning that Fung is not from the same Republican party of John Chafee “that our grandparents remember.” The Reproductive Privacy Act, which Rhode Island passed in 2019 to codify Roe v. Wade into state law, was criticized by Fung previously, saying it “went too far.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, came to Rhode Island in August to back Fung’s candidacy. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with McCarthy, poured $3.7 million into the race, which is far more than any other outside group. In total, approximately $3.4 million went into opposing Magaziner.
Meanwhile, the House Majority PAC — the Democratic counterpart of the Congressional Leadership Fund — pumped $1.9 million into the race, with all of it going toward opposing Fung, according to OpenSecrets.
Magaziner has repeatedly claimed that Fung’s “first vote” would be to make House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, the House speaker.
When asked what he would accomplish his first day, Magaziner scoffed, “You mean not voting for McCarthy as speaker?” He rattled off a number of key issues, from lowering the cost of prescription drugs, capping out-of-pocket costs for Medicare, and building on the protections of the Affordable Care Act. American energy, he said, should be independent, and the country should further invest in offshore wind.
Magaziner said he has the “outmost respect” for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, who could retire. But Magaziner, who spent Monday night calling voters throughout the Second Congressional District, said there’s plenty of talent on the left side of the House to take over as speaker — including Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Congresswoman Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
Throughout this year, polls have shown that the cost of living is the top issue for voters, but the candidates disagreed over what factors are driving up inflation.
Fung pointed to the American Rescue Plan Act and overspending led by President Biden’s administration. Magaziner contended that inflation was driven by price gouging by big oil companies and the war in the Ukraine. He said he supports recently introduced legislation by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Langevin that would require big oil companies to put some of their profits back into consumers’ pockets.
Magaziner said he wants to bring more manufacturing jobs back to the United States, which can be done through tax incentives — a “powerful tool,” he said — that would reach industries from automobiles to hardware and “everyday household items.”
The return of manufacturing jobs isn’t just for the economic interest of the country, he said, it’s a “national security measure, too.”
Previous reporting was used in this story.