August 25, 2023 Letter

I hope you are enjoying summer. Many of us are following the campaign in our First Congressional District (CD-1) to succeed Congressman Cicilline. Because CD-1 historically has supported Democratic Party candidates in the general election, the winner of the September 5 Democratic primary likely will be favored to win the seat in November. Twelve candidates qualified for the ballot, providing us a broad range of options, but with it the responsibility of learning as much as we can about each of them.

I have served with three of the candidates during my time on the Providence City Council and the State Senate, and met with others over the past several months. I also attended a candidate forum and watched others. After completing this research, I decided to support my Senate colleague Sandra Cano, and I wish to share with you the reasons for my decision.

My first priority is to elect a representative whose votes will best advance the Democratic Party’s core values. I believe eight or nine of the candidates hold similar positions on many salient issues (a women’s right to choose, gun control, climate change, social justice, etc.), but I see important differences in approach. Right now, the Democratic Party holds a minority of seats in the House of Representatives, but I hope that will change soon. When it does, the Party likely will have a narrow governing majority that will require the cooperation of almost the entire caucus to pass effective legislation. In this setting, Democrats who choose to stand on “principle” by voting against important but imperfect legislation will, in some cases, cause us to miss an opportunity for progress or, in other cases, put our nation’s well-being at risk. The CD-1 candidates offer us a choice concerning this type of tactic.

For example, earlier this year some Democratic members of Congress voted against a bill negotiated and supported by President Biden to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Had Congress failed to enact this bill, millions of Americans would have been harmed by an avoidable, signficant disruption to our economy. At least one of the major candidates on our CD-1 ballot stated during this campaign that he would have joined the dissenting Democrats to vote against raising the debt limit. In contrast, Senator Cano understands the difference between effective legislation we need and the type of performative politics we see too often in Washington.

My next priority is electing a representative with strong legislative skills, such as listening to and communicating with constituents and colleagues, understanding policy and advocating effectively. I believe that many of the candidates on our ballot have the potential to succeed in these areas, but some candidates’ potential has not been tested. In contrast, I have seen Sandra introduce and advance meaningful legislation in such areas as education and child care, making a positive difference for many Rhode Islanders. I have served with her on Senate committees, where her questions and comments to State officials helped advance my knowledge of difficult policy issues, while also guiding those officials to make better decisions. I believe her demonstrated skill set provides an excellent foundation for a successful Congressional career.

Last but not least, I want my representative in Congress to possess exemplary character, integrity and devotion to public service. In my two years of in the Senate with Sandra, working on such issues important to our community such as the State takeover of the Providence Public Schools, she has proven to be a committed ally whom I and my fellow Senators respect and trust.

I am confident each of you will exercise your own sound judgment to choose a candidate who best represents your priorities in Congress.  If you plan to vote in the September 5 Democratic primary, I ask you please to reflect on the views I have just shared in support of my colleague, Senator Sandra Cano.

Thank you for your consideration