Backed by students and PAC, former R.I. rep. fights corporate control

Contributing Writer
Thursday, March 3, 2011

David Segal, a former state representative who garnered support from students for his congressional bid last September, has stayed active in politics since finishing third in the first district Democratic primary.

 In October, he co-founded a political action committee with activist Aaron Swartz called Demand Progress. As a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives for District 2, Segal was an important ally for University student groups supporting progressive causes.

Segal said he intends to use the PAC to promote the policies he advocated while in office and to “try to push back against corporate control of governments and the power of the incredibly wealthy in this country.”

So far, Demand Progress has focused on the issues of free speech and “Internet freedom.” It was able to influence the outcome of the vote to renew the Patriot Act in Congress because other groups opposing the controversial law, demoralized by their inability to block its passage in previous years, stayed on the sidelines this year, Segal said. Congress renewed the act — but for two months instead of three years — and plans to look into ways to reform it.

“We are hoping to broaden the menu of issues we work on and start working on issues of corporate control,” Segal said.

Following his unsuccessful run for Congress, Segal campaigned for other candidates for local office in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, he said.

Lyndsey Barnes ’11, who worked on Segal’s campaign during the summer and fall, said she was encouraged by Segal’s actions after he lost the primary. “He pretty much started the PAC right after the primary, and that means a lot of great things about his future,” she said.

Barnes originally joined Segal’s campaign because she supported his advocacy for burial rights for same-sex partners. “The Brown community still has a lot of support for him because he was so involved with us for the past eight years,” she said.

Alex Campbell ’10, who also volunteered for Segal’s campaign, said students still support Segal for the same reasons they “were attracted to his record and what he stands for in the first place.”

While he has not ruled out running for office in the future, the 31-year-old Segal said he is enjoying a break from public office, which he has held since he was 23 years old. He was first elected to the Providence City Council in 2002.

“I definitely think he has a future in politics, whether it’s with something like the PAC he’s doing right now or if he decides to run again,” Barnes said. “I think that a lot more people are aware of who he is and what he stands for, which sets him up to have a future in Rhode Island or elsewhere.”

Will Emmons ’09, campaign manager for Segal’s 2008 General Assembly reelection campaign and a member of his congressional campaign staff, said he would be happy to campaign for Segal if he ever decides to run again.

“I think the PAC is off to a really exciting start,” Emmons said, adding that he is impressed by Segal’s extensive network of contacts and ongoing work with Demand Progress.

“I think that David has an exciting life ahead of him regardless of what he decides to do,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *