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Autiello drops out of crowded R.I. 1st Congressional race; 14 candidates remain

A dozen Democrats are still in the race for David Cicilline’s old seat in Congress

Nicholas Autiello held a news conference on June 30 calling for debates to be held in the race for the 1st Congressional District.Steph Machado

PROVIDENCE — Citing a lack of resources and the crowded field, Democrat Nicholas Autiello suspended his campaign for Congress on Wednesday.

“Since launching this campaign at the end of March, my team and I knocked on thousands of doors, discussed dozens of critical issues facing our country with voters across the district, raised a significant amount of money, qualified for the ballot, and, I believe, shared a compelling vision for our country’s future and our place in the world,” Autiello said in a statement.

“However, we simply do not have the financial resources to win this race, and while I wish that were not the case, I believe my continuing at this point would only be an act of vanity,” he continued.


Autiello, a former aide to Governor Gina Raimondo, had raised $226,500 so far — the sixth-highest amount in the race — and had just under $100,000 cash on hand as of the most recent filing deadline. He was endorsed by the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, which also endorsed Don Carlson.

The race for former U.S. Rep. David Cicilline’s seat in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District has drawn a staggering number of candidates, with 35 initially declaring their candidacy by the deadline at the end of June.

But just 15 candidates, including Autiello, submitted enough verified signatures to qualify for the ballot. Of those, 13 qualified candidates are Democrats while two are Republicans.

The dozen Democrats that remain in the race include Gabe Amo, Stephanie Beauté, Walter Berbrick, Sandra Cano, Don Carlson, Stephen Casey, Spencer Dickinson, John Goncalves, Sabina Matos, Ana Quezada, Aaron Regunberg and Allen Waters.

The two Republicans that qualified for the primary ballot are Terri Flynn and Gerry Leonard Jr.

Democrats are heavily favored to win the seat that represents the more left-leaning half of Rhode Island. The primary is set for Sept. 5, with early voting starting on Aug. 16.


Carlson, a Jamestown businessman, has raised the most money thanks to $600,000 in personal funds. He had nearly $770,000 on hand as of the latest deadline.

Regunberg, a former state representative, has raised $470,600 thus far, followed by Amo, a former White House aide and former Raimondo staffer who has raised $462,500.

Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos has raised $338,000, while state Senator Sandra Cano of Pawtucket has raised $264,100.

Acknowledging his odds of success, Autiello said “staying in this race would only further confuse voters in an unprecedentedly crowded field, and I cannot do that in good conscience.”

An internal poll his campaign released Tuesday showed Autiello receiving just 5% support in a survey of 300 voters, behind Matos (20%), Regunberg (12%), Cano (7%) and Amo (6%).

He was one of seven remaining candidates from Providence. He did not immediately throw his support behind another candidate.

The deadline to withdraw from the ballot is 4 p.m. Wednesday, which is also the deadline for candidates to challenge their disqualification.

Among those who did not qualify for the ballot was House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin Abney, a Newport Democrat. Abney was 42 verified signatures short of the 500 required to make it on the ballot.

Steph Machado can be reached at Follow her @StephMachado.