When John Loughlin declared his intention to take on Patrick Kennedy in the RI-01 congressional district, the race generated enormous attention, including from me. Loughlin was willing to take on a Kennedy in a longtime Kennedy seat against large odds.
When Kennedy later announced he would not run again, the race dropped off the national radar. But it is back.
As reported by The Providence Journal, Charlie Cook has moved the race from Likely-D to Lean-D, based on the strength of Loughlin and a bloody Democratic primary which left Providence Mayor David Cicilline the victor but with an unimpressive showing:
RI-01 OPEN (Kennedy) Likely D to Lean D
Sure enough, Providence Mayor David Cicilline was able to win the mid-September Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy, but it came at a bit of a cost. In the run-up to the primary, Cicilline was forced to acknowledge that the city had improperly given him pay raises as mayor between 2006 and 2009, and rival businessman Anthony Gemma even called on the DCCC to ask Cicilline to end his campaign. Cicilline won the primary with 37 percent of the vote, not a terribly impressive showing for the one candidate in the race with universal name ID and a big financial edge.
Meanwhile, GOP state Rep. John Loughlin points out that a Providence Mayor has never been elected to Congress, and Loughlin has been able to stockpile his resources for the general election. By the numbers, this may be the most Democratic seat currently on Republicans’ target list, and both national parties may be hesitant to get involved, but local Democrats admit that this will be the most competitive House race Rhode Island has seen in over a decade. Cicilline leads in early polling and still has an advantage, but it’s a legitimate race.
This is my home district. Loughlin is a good guy, with long time service in the Army and Army Reserve. Cicilline has more money and the district is heavily Democratic — but in this year it is winnable. The Cook report hopefully can generate some buzz and some contributions to Loughlin.
Cicilline is a divisive figure. He has been Providence mayor since Buddy Cianci was driven out of office, but with that carries all the baggage of Providence’s problems. Cicilline was attacked pretty seriously by fellow Democrats in the primary, which amounted to free advertising for Loughlin.
This could be an unexpected pick-up for Republicans, so it is worth the effort.
Here is Moe Lane’s interview of Loughlin back in February: