David Cicilline Faces Tough Opponent in November

Posted September 10, 2012 at 6:23pm

Even though Rhode Island Democrats expect Rep. David Cicilline to easily win today’s primary, he is no doubt in trouble this November.

Cicilline’s primary rematch from 2010 in Rhode Island’s 1st district tops the list of races to watch today as voters in three states decide the last primaries of the 2012 cycle.
Businessman Anthony Gemma opted for a rematch with Cicilline after losing the Democratic nod to him last cycle.

Cicilline’s initial poll numbers have been weakened by budget problems in Providence, where he was mayor before winning a seat in Congress. These problems and Cicilline’s poll numbers are why the heavily Democratic district is seriously in play in the general election. 

Gemma has largely self-funded his campaign and tried to use Cicilline’s problems against him. But as primary day approached, it did not appear as if Gemma had made significant inroads with Democratic voters.

“He is a very good campaigner, and he’s taken everything seriously,” an unaligned Rhode Island Democratic strategist said about Cicilline. “Nobody knew how this was going to pan out with Gemma.”

At times, Gemma’s missteps alienated the state’s Democratic establishment. The seat’s previous occupant, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D), endorsed Cicilline early and campaigned for him Monday.

The primary does not appear to have taken much of any toll on Cicilline’s general election effort. If anything, it has forced the freshman lawmaker to get organized earlier, and he has aired a series of positive TV ads.

National Democrats insist that Cicilline has righted the ship, that he is bouncing back and that the demographics of the seat make it difficult for any Republican to win.

But Republican strategists in Washington, D.C., continue to see a real opportunity in November. They tout Brendan Doherty, a retired state police colonel, as a top recruit.
Bullish Republicans say that at best, the GOP has a shot at picking up the seat. At worst, it will cost Democrats money to save a seat that should be safely in their column.

Elsewhere today, primaries are on tap in New Hampshire and Delaware, two small states that will see disparate political activity this fall.

New Hampshire is a top House battleground, with both districts highly competitive this fall. However, today’s primaries are mere formalities because the fields have been set for months.

Rep. Charles Bass (R) will face attorney Ann McLane Kuster (D), while Rep. Frank Guinta (R) will square off against former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. Both races are rematches from 2010.

In Delaware, there’s nothing worth watching on the federal level in today’s primaries or in November. Democratic Sen. Tom Carper and at-large Rep. John Carney (D) are expected to coast through their primaries and on to re-election.