Last month we saw that former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg was considering running for the congressional seat in Rhode Island that David Cicilline’s retirement is leaving open. And a few days ago, he made it official— and today Blue America has as well. You can contribute to his campaign here, or by clicking on our endorsement graphic above. You might ask yourself, why spend money in a primary in such deep blue district where a Democrat is going to win anyway and where MAGA candidates barely get a third of the vote. (The partisan lean is D+32.)
The primary in this kind of district is exactly the point. A Democrat will win, yes, but will it be a progressive champion of working families or will it be a conservative corporate whore, which the Rhode Island Democratic Party is riven with? The other announced candidates are, to use an old phrase from my childhood, dreck— from pretend-Democrat, Giuliani operative and Sarah Palin fan, Nick Autiello to right-of-center state Rep Nathan Biah… and lots more in between. So far an even dozen candidates have announced and as many are making up their minds. Regunberg is the only progressive in the lot— and the other progressive who was considering a run, David Segal, has wholeheartedly endorsed him.
Let’s start with Aaron’s announcement video, so you hear in his own words why he’s running and what he hopes to accomplish in Congress:
“For fifteen years,” he said, “I’ve been fighting to make a difference for everyday Rhode Islanders. As a state legislator, I built coalitions that passed laws to give working people paid sick days, higher wages, and access to renewable energy. As a community organizer in Providence, I stood up with folks who’ve been ignored for too long. And as a new lawyer, I’ve supported court cases to hold Big Oil companies accountable for their environmental crimes.”
Another important motivation: “I am also a dad. My son turned two in March, the same month the United Nations released its final warning that if we don’t start taking urgent action on the climate crisis, all of our children will be permanently locked-in to a dangerous future. But that future hasn’t been decided yet. It’s still up for grabs. Just like the future of our democracy. And the right of every woman to make her own healthcare decisions. And the ability of workers to build unions for a better life. And our power to stop Big Pharma, Big Banks, and Big Oil from ripping us off. To win these fights, we need people who can organize, and build coalitions, and make real change. That’s what I’ve been doing for years here in Rhode Island. And that’s what I’d do in Congress.”
Among the local officials who endorsed him out of the box were state Rep Cherie Cruz (Pawtucket), state Rep Leonela Felix (also Pawtucket), Providence City Councilor Sue Anderbois— who noted that, “Climate change is the existential threat of our time. Aaron understands these issues at both a very personal and professional level, and there’s nobody who will advocate for them more passionately. I’m so thrilled that he’s running for Congress, and I hope that every Rhode Islander who cares about the climate crisis will join me in supporting his campaign”— and Providence City Councilor Helen Anthony.
Yesterday, Regunberg told me that “The stakes in this race are high. Republican extremists are attacking our democracy and our rights, Big Oil is dragging us into climate chaos, and corporate monopolies are strangling working people. To take on these threats, we need progressive leaders who can organize and win real change. That’s what I’ve been doing here in Rhode Island for years, and that’s the fight I’d bring to Congress.”
David Cicilline was an excellent and effective member of Congress. He should be replaced by someone of his calibre, not by an establishment hack from the corrupt Gina Raimondo political machine. Regunberg began his career as the founder of the Providence Student Union, an education justice organization that supports young people fighting for better public schools. In 2014 he was elected to the General Assembly, where during two terms he led successful fights to pass paid sick days legislation, raise the state’s tipped minimum wage, reform the use of solitary confinement, expand harm reduction strategies, and enact new renewable energy and community solar programs. He also emerged as a leading voice in the General Assembly’s progressive caucus, organizing collective policy initiatives like the 2017 and 2018 Fair Shot Agenda. In 2018, Regunberg upset expectations when he won 49% of the vote in the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor against the incumbent, Dan McKee. He then worked as a senior policy advisor for the City of Providence before enrolling at Harvard Law School. While earning his law degree, he worked with the Sierra Club and the Center for Climate Integrity on climate and environmental litigation. He most recently served in a federal judicial clerkship in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.
If you can, please send whatever size donation you can swing and help us rebuild America with real, fighting progressives here.