Democrats Nominate Seth Magaziner In Key Rhode Island House Race

The state's general treasurer is slated to face former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R) in the general election.
Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner won a Democratic primary to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin in Congress. Langevin endorsed him over a former aide.
Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner won a Democratic primary to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin in Congress. Langevin endorsed him over a former aide.
David Goldman/Associated Press

Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island’s general treasurer, won a Democratic congressional primary to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Langevin (D) on Tuesday.

Magaziner, a business-friendly liberal who raised the most money in the field and was endorsed by Langevin, defeated five other contenders seeking the Democratic nomination in Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District. His victory is a win for the state’s Democratic Party establishment and allied groups, which saw him as the most viable general-election candidate.

Magaziner is due to face Republican nominee Allan Fung, the former mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, in November.

National Republicans have indicated that they plan to seriously contest the seat. They see Fung, who characterizes himself as a centrist, as the kind of candidate who can win in a politically and geographically diverse district that President Joe Biden would have carried by 14 percentage points in 2020.

But Democrats plan to lump Fung in with his Republican backers, turning the race into a referendum on GOP control of the House rather than Fung’s personal merits or reputation as a mayor.

“There’s certainly nothing moderate about supporting [House Republican Leader] Kevin McCarthy, who has made clear that he wants to cut Social Security and Medicare and pass a national abortion ban,” Magaziner told HuffPost last week.

McCarthy has indicated that he will entertain legislation restricting abortion on a national level but has not specified his plans.

Fung, who supports allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest, has said he would not prioritize limits on abortion rights, though he did not rule out support for federal bans in an interview with The Boston Globe after the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion-restricting decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in June.

But Fung gave Democrats an opening to nationalize the race in August when he welcomed McCarthy to Rhode Island for a fundraiser. He also attended a retreat for Republican donors that McCarthy hosted in Wyoming later that month.

Fung, who ran two competitive but ultimately unsuccessful races for governor, identifies as a fiscal conservative focused on trimming budgets and improving government services for constituents. The son of immigrants from Hong Kong, Fung would be Rhode Island’s first non-white member of Congress.

“I would definitely be proud to kind of kick open that bamboo ceiling, ensure that other individuals can follow behind,” he told the Globe. “But the most important thing is those pocketbook issues, wallet issues, that we’re all facing in Rhode Island and as a country.”

Magaziner, whose father, Ira, was a successful management consultant and adviser to former President Bill Clinton, was born into a storied family in Democratic politics. He parlayed his upbringing and his family’s financial success into a career in state politics, where he endeared himself to organized labor with his support for policies such as a state infrastructure bank.

During the primary, Magaziner, who dropped out of the governor’s race to run for Congress, successfully argued that his record of statewide electoral success made him the best candidate to defeat Fung. He triumphed over former Langevin aide Joy Fox, former Biden administration official Sarah Morgenthau, former state Rep. David Segal, refugee activist Omar Bah and former state Rep. Spencer Dickinson.

Magaziner and Morgenthau were the only two candidates with the resources to advertise on television.

One potential liability for Magaziner is that until a few months ago he lived just outside the boundaries of Rhode Island’s 2nd District. He and his family now rent a home in the district, and he touts his experience working in the district as general treasurer.

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