Cicilline, R.I.'s Gay Congressman, Reelected

The Democrat won reelection in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District after a vicious race with challenger Brendan Doherty.

BY Neal Broverman

November 06 2012 10:21 PM ET

David Cicilline

Democrat David Cicilline won reelection in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District after a vicious race with challenger Brendan Doherty.

Cicilline, a former mayor of Providence, became the nation’s fourth openly LGBT member of Congress when elected two years ago. He will now serve Rhode Island in the House of Representatives until at least early 2015.

“We’re thrilled that David will return to Capitol Hill, where his voice will be vital in a growing caucus of openly LGBT lawmakers,” Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, which helped Cicilline’s campaign, said in a statement.

The 51-year-old was embroiled in a fiercely competitive contest to retain his seat against Doherty, the former head of the state police. Cicilline was recently endorsed by President Bill Clinton (who also participated in robo-calls), and press secretary Richard Luchette told us last week he's optimistic about his boss's chances: "The campaign has taken a backseat the last few days as Congressman Cicilline has focused on helping constituents [with] Hurricane Sandy. We know there will be plenty of time for campaigning over the next week. There's a lot of work left to be done, but we're confident that he will win reelection to a second term." Still, the politician faced a few obstacles:

MONEY
Republicans are gunning to get one of their own in Rhode Island's first congressional district for the first time since the 1990s. Doherty's campaign raised $328,000 by October 17, while Cicilline's brought in $153,000, less than half of his challenger's total.

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Obviously, that money translates to commercials  — and Doherty is not playing nice. One specious ad connects Cicilline to child molesters. The spot asks viewers what "a child molester, a murderer, and a violent attacker all have in common? Defense attorney David Cicilline. Before his disastrous years as mayor, David Cicilline defended a convicted child molester, the killer of a teenage girl, and a man convicted of attacking a woman."

ENDORSEMENTS
The state's largest newspaper, the Providence Journal, endorsed Doherty instead of Cicilline. While newspaper endorsements don't necessarily translate to votes, it wasn't good news.

POLLS
A recent poll from Doherty's campaign shows the Republican six percentage points ahead of Cicilline. Of course, the poll was likely skewed. Another one actually has Cicilline ahead by a point.

THE TRUTH
Doherty seems to play a little fast and loose with the truth, at least according to the fact-checking website Politifact. The Republican appears to have made up statements regarding Cicilline's time as mayor as well as his congressional fund-raising.

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