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Foulkes decides against running for Congress in R.I.

“Right now, I believe that I can have a bigger impact in the long run by working with members of our community on local issues here at home,” the former CVS executive and gubernatorial candidate told supporters

Gubernatorial candidate for governor former CVS executive Helena B. Foulkes during a August 2022 forum moderated by Boston Globe reporter Edward Fitzpatrick and hosted by the Environment Council of RI and the Environmental Club of Rhode Island College.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — Helena Buonanno Foulkes, the Democratic former CVS executive who ran for governor last year, announced on Monday she will not run for the First Congressional District seat that US Representative David N. Cicilline is vacating.

“This wasn’t an easy decision,” Foulkes wrote in a message to supporters. “I’m deeply passionate about serving the people of Rhode Island and incredibly honored that so many of you believe that I would represent you and your families well in Washington.”

But, she said, “Right now, I believe that I can have a bigger impact in the long run by working with members of our community on local issues here at home. From our housing crisis to our struggling public schools to the test of the new economy, the challenges facing our state are real and immediate. I want to help fix them here.”

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Her announcement comes three days after another leading contender, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, announced that he will not run for the seat that Cicilline is leaving to become president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

It comes just one hour after state Senator Sandra C. Cano, a Pawtucket Democrat, announced that she will run for the First Congressional District seat. And it comes one week after Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, a former Providence City Council president, entered the race.

Last year, in her first run for public office, Foulkes came within 3 percentage points of knocking off Democratic Governor Daniel J. McKee in the September primary.

After the election, Foulkes said she was looking for a way to stay involved in public policy, focusing on how to improve public education in Rhode Island. She has become executive chair of the Follett Corporation, which owns campus bookstores across the country, and she said she’d be ready to run for governor again in 2026 “if the moment is right.”

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“I ran for governor driven by the belief that my leadership and executive experience could be channeled towards serving the state I love,” Foulkes wrote. “And while our pursuit fell short, I remain convinced that there is still a lot that we can achieve together.

Since last year’s election, she has “returned to several private and public sector responsibilities and have spent time with community leaders across the state, learning and giving counsel,” she said. “I love coaching other leaders and have been inspired by how I can help people working on issues that matter to all of us. The challenges we face are real, but the opportunities we can embrace together are exciting.”

Foulkes said she can’t say for sure what she will do in the future. But, she said, “I remain deeply committed to our beautiful state and its potential to be a beacon of hope and progress for generations to come.”


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