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Uncertain Moment for Progressives

Gordon Fox's ascendancy to the speakership has meant a more prominent role in the Rhode Island House of Representatives for the Progressive Caucus, a loosely organized group of lefty legislators.

But the caucus, for all its gains, is in flux. One of its brightest minds, Representative Raymond J. Sullivan Jr. of Coventry, has taken a job with Congressman James Langevin and is on his way out. And two other key members of the caucus could soon be gone, too. Representative Ed Pacheco of Burrillville is considered a leading candidate for the job of state party chairman, with Bill Lynch having left the post to run for Congress. And Representative David Segal, a Providence Democrat, is said to be seriously weighing a Congressional bid of his own.

All three are young, smart, and skilled in the ways of organization.

The potential loss of the triumvirate makes a pair of Democratic primary insurgencies all the more important for the left. Teresa Tanzi is taking on Representative David Caprio, of Narragansett. And as expected, Maria Cimini announced this week that she will be challenging Representative Joanne M. Giannini, of Providence, who angered some on the left with her recent push to close the prostitution loophole.

Tanzi and Cimini are, no doubt, emboldened by the state's fiscal crisis and broad anti-incumbent sentiment. But dethroning a long-time incumbent - Caprio has been in office for some 10 years and Giannini for 16 - is always difficult.

And what was supposed to be the progressives' moment is suddenly a bit cloudy.

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