Brown prof. announces her intention to run for Congress

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Assistant Professor of Political Science Jennifer Lawless intends to challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin in the 2006 Democratic primary for Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District seat, she told students and colleagues Tuesday.

“At this point, we are dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s,” said Adam Deitch ’05, who will be working on Lawless’ campaign. Deitch is currently the chair of both the Undergraduate Finance Board and Residential Council.

Deitch and other officials from Lawless’ campaign declined to comment further.

In an e-mail sent to fellow faculty in the Department of Political Science and obtained by The Herald from a recipient in the department who insisted on anonymity, Lawless wrote, “I have wrestled with the professional and political risks involved in the decision to enter this race, but I have determined that the potential benefits outweigh the possible costs.”

“I love my job and I love being a political scientist,” Lawless wrote. “Indeed, it is my research on women and politics that served as the catalyst for this decision. I will continue to teach and do as much research as I possibly can throughout the campaign process. If things do not work out on the campaign trail (and many people would be inclined to say that they will not), I plan to remain fully devoted to the Department and my research.”

Lawless acknowledged in the e-mail the difficulty of challenging an incumbent like Langevin, but she wrote that the importance of having women in public office and her divergence from Langevin’s views on several issues compelled her to consider running.

A student told The Herald that Lawless announced Tuesday in PS 114: “Public Opinion and American Democracy” that she intended to run for the congressional seat.

She has also told previous classes that she intended to run for public office one day.

In an April 6 opinion piece in the Providence Journal, Lawless criticized Langevin and Rhode Island’s other U.S. congressman, Democrat Patrick Kennedy, for not challenging Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee ’75 for his Senate seat, arguing that both could serve constituents better by helping Democrats pick up a seat in the Senate.

“I can only hope that each will face a contested primary, if for no other reason than to be forced to justify publicly their decision to value their own job security over the interests of the citizens they allegedly represent,” she wrote in the Journal.

With a population of over 500,000, Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District encompasses Cranston, Warwick, Kingston and Westerly. Providence is split between the state’s two congressional districts, with the East Side falling in Kennedy’s 1st District.

– With Herald staff reports