Voters in Rhode Island’s First Congressional District will head to the polls Sept. 12 to select their candidates in the Democratic and Republican congressional primaries.
Incumbent Rep. David Cicilline ’83, D-R.I., will seek his fifth term running on a robust liberal platform that emphasizes lowering health care costs and increasing economic growth through American manufacturing.
Cicilline has been a rising figure in Congress, serving on the House Judiciary Committee and acting as a vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s administration. He drew media attention for his defense of recently fired FBI agent Peter Strzok, formerly an investigator for the Mueller probe.
“What we ought to be doing is protecting the special counsel’s investigation,” Cicilline said. “It’s very dangerous when you have a president and elected officials attacking the rule of law.”
Cicilline also hopes to continue fighting to reduce the influence of corporate capital and lobbying power in Washington, D.C. He’s taken a pledge not to accept corporate money to fund his campaign.
“We need to check the pervasive influence of corruption in Washington,” Cicilline said, “in order to raise ethical standards to get the government working again for the people.”
Cicilline has long pushed for responsible gun control measures and climate action. He is a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and has introduced the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act, which would impose a fee on carbon and greenhouse emissions. Cicilline also helped prevent drilling off Rhode Island’s shores by co-sponsoring the New England Coastal Protection Act.
In the tight gubernatorial race between progressive candidate Matt Brown and incumbent Gov. Gina Raimondo, Cicilline said that he will endorse Raimondo, citing the state’s economic growth and stability under her tenure.
Contending against Cicilline for the Democratic nomination is Christopher Young, who ran against Cicilline in the 2016 District 1 primary and received one-third of the vote.
Young has shared conspiracy theories through his Facebook page, including one that linked Hillary Clinton to the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., as reported by the Providence Journal.
Young’s campaign website states that he has been “fighting against corruption all his life.”
One of his top priorities is removing the federal highway tolls in Rhode Island. “I believe the tolling on federal highways is a tax and the public did not get a chance to vote on this tax impeding interstate commerce,” Young is quoted saying on his website. “Our very nation had a revolution and wrote the Declaration of Independence on this point of imposing taxes on us without our consent.”
Young’s website says he also focuses on improving national security to protect against ISIS attacks on U.S. soil. Young did not respond to requests for an interview with The Herald.
For the Republican party, stay-at-home father and former financial advisor Patrick Donovan runs on a platform that seeks to lower his constituents’ cost of living.
Donovan said that he would overhaul the energy system to bring in cheap renewable energy for Rhode Island. “This is power that could come to us for hundreds of years,” Donovan said.
Donovan’s top priority is improving public health by reducing the amount of unused pharmaceuticals in circulation. “They are hazardous waste at this point,” Donovan said. “They are ending up in our groundwater or the ocean, and they are going in undiluted.” He worries that Rhode Island youth will experiment with them as “party drugs” if they are available.
“It’s very straightforward: start collecting them,” he added.
Donovan supports programs offering rehabilitation for nonviolent criminals. “Work deeply with them to reintegrate them well into society so they can live a holistic life,” Donovan said. “That would lower our prison population.”
While he is personally against abortion, he respects Roe v. Wade as a law, he said.
Though Donovan disavows Trump’s rhetoric, he supports the administration and believes Trump has improved the country’s infrastructure.
He will face off against Frederick Wysocki in the Republican primary. Wysocki could not be reached for comment and an online version of his platform could not be found before the publishing of this article.
Meanwhile, Daniel Guilmette, a 28-year-old truck driver, will run as a write-in, independent candidate in the November general election. While Guilmette says he voted for and supports Trump and his administration, he added that running as an independent will allow him to have the freedom to develop his own political platform.
“Being an independent, it just clarifies I’m not beholden to any party or beliefs that people tell me to believe,” he said. “I am just as independent as the Constitution is, that’s what I want to protect.”
Guilmette said he wants to reduce dependency in the welfare system by bolstering the state’s vocational training programs and making alternative forms of education more accessible.
“We need people to make things with their hands again,” Guilmette said. “We need to start with implementing more working programs — weaning people off of welfare instead of trying to get them on welfare.”
Like Donovan, Guilmette also favors criminal justice reform and hopes to promote programs or services that could help nonviolent criminals — especially drug dealers — “get cleaned up properly.”
In addition, Guilmette is morally against abortion but acknowledged that “women have the right to do whatever they want to do with their bodies.”
When it comes to environmental policy, Guilmette favors fossil fuels. A system built primarily on renewable energy would become too expensive, he said.
“The thing with these (fossil) fuels is that they are renewable in themselves — as long as the earth exists, we will always have coal, gas, oil,” he added.