Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Big decision for US House District 2

Who’s the best Democratic candidate to hold on to it?

By Will Collette

It’s only two weeks until Rhode Island’s party primary on September 13. For those of us voting by mail or taking advantage of early voting at Town Hall, we can make our choices before then.

For Charlestown Democrats, we have a hot race for the Senate District 38 seat being vacated by Sen. Dennis Algiere. Statewide, there is hot competition in the Democratic primary races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and General Treasurer.

But from a local, statewide and national perspective, the most vital primary of all is for the Democrat who will run for retiring Representative Jim Langevin’s seat in Congress. The winner of the September 13 primary will face Trumplican Alan Fung, former mayor of Cranston in the General Election on November 8.

In the battle for control of Congress, Democrats MUST hold on to this seat in the epic battle to stop fascism from advancing in America. I’m not exaggerating – that’s what is at stake.

Six Democrats have qualified for the September 13 primary ballot, although South Kingstown’s former state rep Spencer Dickinson has suspended his campaign and political comeback attempt reportedly due to poor health.

The five active candidates are (in the order they appear on the ballot): term-limited General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, David Segal, Omar Bah, gazillionaire carpetbagger Sarah Morgenthau and former Langevin aide Joy Fox.

All five have very similar positions on all the big issues so I think the way to decide who deserves your vote depends on (a) their record and experience, (2) the likelihood they can do the job well and (3) their ability to beat Alan Fung in November to keep Congressional District 2 blue.

My choice is Seth Magaziner. While you can read his campaign bio just about everywhere or read GoLocal’s trash talk against him, I urge you join me in voting for Seth for a lot of good reasons.

For the past eight years, Seth has done a terrific job as General Treasurer. He’s balanced the books, changed our investment strategy away from Gina Raimondo’s hedge funds to more solid, dependable ones, including local banking institutions, and boosted the office’s projects like returning lost money to their rightful owners and compensating crime victims. His innovations include the major school construction and rehab initiative and the Green Bank to finance environmental initiatives.

Seth is smart and creative, a genuinely nice guy and he can win. He’s won handily in District 2 twice now running as Treasurer, while Alan Fung has lost in District 2 twice in his two failed attempts to become Governor.

If we had “ranked voting” in Rhode Island (we don’t), I would pick Joy Fox as my second choice, just edging out my third choice David Segal. Joy is a Rhode Island native and certainly knows the job, having worked as aide to Rep. Langevin. She too is smart and personable and I hope to see her in Rhode Island politics in the years to come. The same holds for progressive David Segal.

Then there’s Omar Bah, described in the Providence Journal as an African refugee with a compelling personal story.”

While he certainly does have a “compelling personal story,” unfortunately that seems to be the only actual concrete information we have about him. I went through his campaign website to try to understand his campaign points. What I found were very general progressive talking points (pro-choice, pro-Green New Deal, etc.) but nothing specific.

I respect his history and commend his courage but really don’t understand why he decided to run for Congress as his first time ever attempt at electoral politics.

To me, the most controversial candidate is Sarah Morgenthau. She’s deliberately running as a Washington insider perhaps because she’s not much of a Rhode Islander having only just moved here. She was called out for collecting a homestead tax credit on her DC residence. Hint to Charlestown: Isn’t it time WE had a homestead tax credit too?

She’s a blue-blood establishment aristocrat. Her grandfather served as Franklin Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary. Her great-granddad was Woodrow Wilson’s Ambassador to Turkey. She had several political appointments under President Obama, did work for Gina Raimondo and fund-raising for Joe Biden.

She says that because of all her DC connections, she will be instantly ready to call on all her friends to help her deliver for Rhode Island. Plus, she’s a woman.

But looking through her resume, you won’t find much experience with Congress – which is the job she’s actually seeking. I can tell you from 25 years of working in Washington myself that Congress is a very different animal than the Executive Branch.

She may be able to get the Prime Minister of Great Britain to answer her phone call but that doesn’t mean she can provide quality constituent services to the people of the Second District. We’ve been spoiled by Jim Langevin who excelled at constituent service. And her grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s blue blood friends won’t be much help in getting legislation passed in a sharply divided Congress.

I don’t understand why she’s running except maybe to tick another box on her list of lifetime achievements. Maybe she’s just anxious to move back to DC.