Auchincloss backs Magaziner, warning RI Dems 2nd District is now a ‘swing seat’

Ted Nesi | WPRI >>

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — General Treasurer Seth Magaziner has landed another big endorsement in the primary to replace Congressman Jim Langevin, as leading Democrats try to consolidate support for him as their party’s pick.

Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss, a freshman Democrat whose district runs along the Rhode Island border, told 12 News he is endorsing Magaziner because he sees him as the party’s best hope to keep Republicans from flipping the seat as part of their drive to recapture the House.

“We have got to fight every congressional race as though it’s the deciding margin,” Auchincloss said Thursday. “That means Rhode Island, that means New Hampshire, that means Maine, that means Georgia, Pennsylvania.” With a poll last week showing GOP candidate Allan Fung ahead, he described the 2nd District as “a swing seat.”

Auchincloss criticized Fung’s positions on abortion, guns and health care, but also joined other Democrats in arguing that the former Cranston mayor’s personal qualities and positions matter less than his vote to put Republican leaders in control of the House.

“Allan Fung’s first vote is going to be for Kevin McCarthy; Kevin McCarthy’s first phone call is going to be to Donald Trump,” Auchincloss said.

“We are facing an extremist GOP that does not respect the basic institutions of democracy, and Allan Fung — as nice a guy as he may be, as well-known of a mayor as he may be — is going to be in lockstep with the Donald Trump agenda in Washington,” he said.

Magaziner said he was “grateful” for the support from Auchincloss, describing him as “a promising young leader in Congress” who shared his commitment to lowering health care costs and protecting Social Security and Medicare.

The cross-state intervention by Auchincloss is the latest evidence of a desire among some top Democrats for the party to rally around Magaziner and shift the focus to the challenge posed by Fung. Langevin endorsed Magaziner last week, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer recently contributed $7,000 to Magaziner’s campaign through his fundraising committees.

Republicans say such moves reveal how concerned Democrats are about losing to Fung in November.

“Establishment Democrats and daddy’s cronies can try to clear the primary field for Silver Spoon Seth Magaziner all they want,” Samantha Bullock, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told 12 News. “But it’s not going to change the fact that Rhode Island voters want nothing to do with the same failed Democrat policies that have fueled inflation.”

So far Magaziner’s Democratic primary opponents have appeared unswayed by the appeals for unity from other party leaders.

A group of former Langevin staffers released a public letter this week saying they are “so incredibly disappointed” in the retiring congressman’s endorsement of Magaziner — whom they dismissed as “a wealthy, white male candidate who does not live in the 2nd District” — over rival Joy Fox, Langevin’s former communications director.

The most low-profile of the Democratic candidates, Providence firefighter Cameron Moquin, quit the race this week — but he endorsed former state Rep. David Segal, not Magaziner, and praised Segal’s progressive platform.

“My campaign is simply not prepared to enter a battle that risks losing a House seat to Republicans,” Moquin said, adding that Segal “has the infrastructure, finances and energy needed to be successful against the Republican opponent.”

A fourth Democrat, former Biden administration official Sarah Morgenthau, said her campaign raised roughly $324,000 during the second quarter and had over $600,000 cash on hand as of June 30 — more than enough to stay in the race. A fifth Democrat, Omar Bah, has also given no indication he will step aside.

For Auchincloss, the endorsement of Magaziner is part of a broader effort he is making to provide political and financial support to Democrats in tough House races. He is running unopposed for a second term in his Massachusetts district, freeing up his attention.

Auchincloss said he sees himself as following in the footsteps of his Democratic predecessors who held the seat — Joe Kennedy III, Barney Frank, and the late Rev. Robert Drinan — who ensured the 4th District was “punching above its weight in national politics.”

The Newton lawmaker has been a prodigious fundraiser since he began running for Congress in 2019, and has been putting that money to work for others in recent months. A campaign spokesperson said he has donated over $66,000 to candidates nationwide so far, and has committed $250,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“I want to support like-minded candidates — people who are not campaigning on Twitter, but are campaigning at the kitchen table,” he said.

Auchincloss, a 34-year-old with two small children, said he also valued the perspective he shares with Magaziner, who is 38 and had his first child last October, as two Millennial fathers.

“I want to work with Seth in the House of Representatives partly because he’ll be another young dad, and we need that perspective in the chamber, of people who are raising young kids and understand the obligations we have to the next generation,” he said.