Rhode Island GOP House, Fung’s Hope, Sees Republican Wave Hit Ocean State

Allan Fung, a Republican House candidate in Rhode Island, is positioning himself to benefit from a nationwide red wave that could even wash over the deep blue ocean state.

Congressional Democrats have long resisted red waves in Rhode Island, which in 2020 voted 59% for President Joe Biden to 39% for former President Donald Trump. But the surprise announcement in January by 21-year-old Democratic veteran congressman Jim Langevin that he will step down from the state’s lighter blue of his two districts, in a difficult year for Democrats, gave the GOP a pickup opportunity.

The 2nd Congressional District covers southern and western Rhode Island. House Republicans need to win five seats in the 435-member chamber to claw back the majority the party lost in 2018.

Fung brings to the race broad name recognition from his 2009-2021 tenure as mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island’s second-largest city, and a reputation as a centrist government.

RHODE ISLAND REPUBLICAN ENTERS RACE THAT COULD TIP OVER CONGRESS SEAT

“‘I’m not running to be hyperpartisan in this election or to bring even more hyperpartisanship to Washington, D.C.,'” Fung told the Washington Examiner. “I want to be a moderating voice, just like I was at Cranston, addressing the issues that really hit us in our wallets and pocketbooks.”

Fung, who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Rhode Island in 2014 and 2018, doesn’t have the Republican nomination all to himself. He will face former State Rep. Bob Lancia, who unsuccessfully ran in 2020 against Langevin for the 2nd Congressional District seat. Redistribution done minimal changes to distribution in the state.

Fung is probably the most eligible Republican candidate in a state that still favors Democrats.

“What he’s offering is he’s offering a respectable, middle-of-the-road Republican alternative,” said Maureen Moakley, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Rhode Island. Washington Examiner. “It’s an uphill battle, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.”

The last Republican to represent the district was former Representative Claudine Schneider, from 1981 to 1991. Lincoln Chafee was the last Republican sent from the state to Washington. He served as a senator for more than seven years, but was ousted by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in the 2006 Democratic wave. Chafee was later elected governor as an independent and later became a Democrat.

Moakley thinks Democrats risk losing the seat if they move too far left. Polls indicate that Rhode Island Treasurer General Seth Magaziner is the clear frontrunner in the Democratic primary, which takes place Sept. 13 with the Republican contest. Magaziner is a seasoned politician who easily won two statewide elections to become treasurer.

Fung lost his two statewide gubernatorial bids to Democrat Gina Raimondo, which came in the same years as Magaziner’s wins. Fung hopes to learn from this experience and noted that he did “extremely well” in the 2nd district during these elections.

As a candidate, Fung has defined centrist positions on some key issues. He voiced his opposition to late-term abortions but also outright bans and sought to portray himself as a consensus-builder, pointing to his cooperation with Democrats when they controlled Cranston City Council.

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Ironically, Fung began his political career as a Democrat. He had been a member of the College Democrats of America and approached the party to run for a seat on the Cranston City Council in 2002 when he was 32. But the party pushed him away, informing him that they had no room for him. .

Fung was upset by the way his hometown of Cranston was run. The city’s financial prospects were rapidly deteriorating at the time, with fitch reviews lower their credit rating. Fung was eager to secure a seat on the board to help right the ship. After being voted out by Democrats, he had coffee with Randy Valenti, a Republican Party official who convinced Fung to run for council as a Republican.

“I’ve always been, you know, tax conservative, especially in the small business world,” Fung said. “A lot of those principles are what Randy and I shared. We had a good discussion and that’s what I see in what I’ve delivered during my time as mayor.

Fung won that race, sowing the seeds for his rise to mayor in the 2008 elections. As mayor, Fung tackled the city’s fiscal issues, tackling pension funding and other delicate political issues. In 2016, the city did the wall street journal list of America’s 50 Best Cities to Live in for the third time in a row.

Now he sees a similar situation with the country’s fiscal situation and hopes to help tackle runaway inflation and soaring energy prices that are biting the nation.

“I see a lot of similar budget issues in the face of this crisis, with a lot of policies that have been put in place not only by the Biden administration but by Congress Pelosi,” Fung said. “With the cost of living crisis, where we’re paying soaring gasoline prices, fuel oil prices, groceries, and there are even labor shortages.”

Fung is also concerned about high crime, especially in urban parts of the country. When visiting friends in New York, he refrains from using the subway due to concerns about anti-Asian violence in the city and opts for an Uber instead.

“It’s a strange feeling. You know, when you’re there. It’s a different feeling, and I’m more careful and cautious because of what’s still happening in some of our urban areas,” Fung said. “I think a lot of these crazy, extreme progressive policies are focused on defunding the police. … I will always do what is right to ensure there are appropriate investments in our law enforcement.

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Magaziner swept away Fung in a picture of him wearing a winter beanie at Trump’s inauguration in 2017. The image has haunted him, as the former president remains deeply unpopular in the state. Fung has sought to avoid political food fights with the former president, but has also not been a vocal supporter of him publicly.

“He’s putting this out there because he wants to distract from the real issues that people care about,” Fung said. “I haven’t heard of any workable solutions to really help a lot of our residents, and that’s why he wants to pull out, you know, that old photo.”

Magaziner raised approximately $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2022, eclipsing Fung’s $502,000, by the Journal of Providence. If Fung is able to pull off an upset victory, it would mirror his wife Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung’s 2020 triumph, in which she ousted Democratic Speaker Nick Mattiello in a race for the State House. It was the first time a sitting president of the General Assembly suffered an electoral defeat in more than 114 years.

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