OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The Republican House majority is razor thin, but they just learned that a prominent Democrat representative is calling it quits.
Democratic Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline has announced that he will be resigning from Congress to lead a nonprofit group at the end of May, The Boston Globe reported.
The decision will set up an off-year special election for the seat that many believe the representative could have held for the rest of his life if he wanted to.
“For more than a decade, the people of Rhode Island entrusted me with a sacred duty to represent them in Congress, and it is a responsibility I put my heart and soul into every day to make life better for the residents and families of our state,” he said to The Globe. “The chance to lead the Rhode Island Foundation was unexpected, but it is an extraordinary opportunity to have an even more direct and meaningful impact on the lives of residents of our state. The same energy and commitment I brought to elected office I will now bring as CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, advancing their mission to ensure all Rhode Islanders can achieve economic security, access quality, affordable healthcare, and attain the education and training that will set them on a path to prosperity.”
The Globe reported:
Cicilline is expected to remain in Congress until May 31. A special election cannot be scheduled until he officially resigns from office.
Cicilline’s departure marks the second disruption within Rhode Island’s traditionally stable four-member congressional delegation in less than a year. James Langevin announced last year that he would retire after 11 terms representing the Second Congressional District, and Democrat Seth Magaziner was sworn in as his successor in January. Democratic US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse have been in their positions since 1997 and 2007, respectively.
Cicilline drew attention as a high school student attending Narragansett School Committee meetings before going on to Brown University, where he graduated from in 1983. He earned a law degree from Georgetown University, and followed in his father’s footsteps to become one of the most prominent defense attorneys in Rhode Island. He ran for the state Senate in 1992, and lost. But he won a seat in state House of Representatives two years later. He was elected mayor of Providence in 2002.
After being elected to the United States House of Representatives Cicilline’s power grew over time and he was an impeachment manager during the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
Cicilline earned $174,000 annually as a congressman but will bring in $650,000 a year as the head of the foundation.
“I am thrilled with the choice of Representative Cicilline as the next president and CEO of the foundation, having seen first-hand—over many years—his commitment to a better Rhode Island,” outgoing president and CEO Neil Steinberg said. “He has the experience, the skills, the passion, and the network to ably lead the foundation. I’m confident that he will very successfully engage with our donors, nonprofit grantees, and community stakeholders. I applaud, and thank, our board of directors for making this excellent selection and know that he will build on our success and take the foundation to the next level, on behalf of all Rhode Islanders.”
“We are confident in Congressman Cicilline’s abilities, intellect, and accomplishments and are excited to begin working with him as our next president and CEO,” the chair of th foundation’s board of directors, Dr. G. Alan Kurose, said. “David’s skills and values fit perfectly with those of the Rhode Island Foundation—he is committed to meeting the needs of all Rhode Islanders and has been throughout his public-service career.”
“It was a high priority for us, from the beginning of this search process, to attract a diverse pool of candidates. Congressman Cicilline’s career-long fight for equity and equality at the local, national, and international level, and his deep relationships within Rhode Island’s communities of color are two of the many factors that led us to this decision,” he said.
“I’m honored for the opportunity to continue serving the Ocean State as president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation,” the representative said. “It’s thrilling to join the Foundation after 15 years of growth and philanthropic excellence during Neil Steinberg’s leadership. I’m excited to apply my experience and passion to this nonpartisan role.”