CRANSTON, R.I. — Out since dawn for a long day of crisscrossing the 2nd Congressional District for last-minute votes, former Cranston mayor Allan W. Fung arrived at his polling place at Hope Highlands School late Tuesday morning to a sort of homecoming.
Fung and his wife, state Representative Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, were greeted by volunteers and well-wishers, buoyed by recent polling giving him the edge in the Congressional race. “I feel better in this election cycle than in ‘14 and ‘18,” Fung told reporters outside the school. “We’ve shaken a lot of hands, we’ve been at people’s doors, at the fairs and festivals, and just talking to voters, I feel good about today.”
This race for the seat vacated by US Representative James Langevin has captivated national attention, as a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll in October showed Fung leading Democrat Seth Magaziner, the current state treasurer, which could mean flipping a seat that’s been held by Democrats for more than 30 years.
“I’ve been with him since day one, and I think he’s going to win,” said Mayor Ken Hopkins, who succeeded Fung in office. “Just from talking to people, they’re looking for the change. I think a lot of it has to do with the prices of food, the prices of gas on a national level, and I think it’s filtering down. You may see a pretty good red wave in the city of Cranston today, and I’m hoping that carries him.”
Fung said he’s seeing support from independents as well as Blue Dog “JFK” Democrats. “Here in Rhode Island, as well as across the country, they felt the messaging I’ve been talking about is what’s on their minds, and that’s the cost of living that’s impacting every single day, especially home heating oil,” he said. “People are down right scared.”
Fung dismissed criticisms from Democrats that he will vote in lockstep with Republicans in Congress. He said he would have diverted from the GOP by voting in favor of the infrastructure bill and the CHIPS and Science Act, which is funding domestic research and manufacturing of semiconductors in the United States.
“Those are ridiculous scare tactics from my opponents who overlook my actual record of working together across the aisle doing the right thing,” Fung said. “I’m going to go down there to represent them, be the Rhode Island voice and do the right thing.”
Inside the polling place, where he was the 539th voter to cast his ballot, Fung stooped down and hugged 6-year-old Gabby Guglielmo for a photo. Her father, Greg Guglielmo, was casting his vote for the former Cranston mayor. Guglielmo was working for a local engineering firm when he got to know and like then-Mayor Fung.
“I am very moderate,” said Guglielmo. “I believe he will work with both sides.”
So does Ruth Ferrazzano, who said she also voted for Fung. She said she believes he will honor the views of Rhode Islanders. On a whole, though, Ferrazano said, “I think we need some changes.”
Terri, a registered Republican voter who declined to give her last name, said she was also looking for change in government.
“I’d like to see the economy improve, inflation come down, better schools,” she said. “I think we need a change in the country, but we can start here.”
The confidence of the Fung voters contrasted with the whispered tones of those voting against him.
“Right now, with the Republicans, if they gain control in Congress, I’m just afraid of what rights they might take away from us, under the guise of protecting us,” said Kathy, 56, an unaffiliated voter who declined to give her last name. “Fung is a really nice guy, but I’m just afraid if [his election] would flip the scales.”
That’s why this race, for Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District, was her priority above any of the other races on the ballot.
In another era, where the balance of seats wasn’t so precarious, Kathy said, she would have considered voting for Fung. “He is a good person. It’s sad that it has to be this way,” she said. “But his values and virtues are not going to matter [in the House]. It’s all about the numbers.”
Her fears were echoed by another woman, who cast her ballot for Fung’s opponent, Seth Magaziner.
Diane, a resident of Cranston for more than 30 years, said she was motivated by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “I feel like we’re going backwards in so many areas,” she said, declining to give her last name. “I’m really concerned about the Supreme Court and what’s next.”
She added, “I really do believe it could be the end of democracy.”