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Cicilline's Woes Go National

David Cicilline's tough political stretch gets the full treatment in Politico today.

So much for the honeymoon period.

Less than three months into his first term, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has nose-dived in the polls and is under fire back home in Providence, the embattled city where he served as mayor before winning election to Congress.

With the city of 178,000 facing a stunning $110 million projected budget deficit that the current mayor has described as a “Category 5” hurricane, Cicilline’s performance in City Hall has come under harsh scrutiny that has resulted in rock-bottom approval ratings.
As I've suggested before, it's far too early to write the Congressman's obituary, given his talents as a pol and fundraiser - and the inevitable dampening of the outrage over the state of Providence's finances in the next year-and-a-half.
 
Moreover, the institutional advantages of incumbency will combine with other structural factors to boost his 2012 candidacy: the president will be atop the ticket, drawing Democrats to the polls, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will be on the ballot - ensuring a Democratic field effort stronger than last year's fractured affair.
 
Those advantages would be most potent in the general election, which leaves this question: does Cicilline face a Democratic challenge? And if so, how many candidates hop in?
 
A multi-candidate field would split the anti-Cicilline vote, all but assuring the incumbent's victory. Businessman Anthony Gemma, who seems to be itching for a rematch, will have to clear the field of other would-be challengers, spend a lot of money, and learn from the mistakes of his rookie campaign if he's to have a prayer. Gemma's chief challenge, if he gets to that point: he'll face far heavier scrutiny than he did as a first-time candidate, in a multi-candidate field, with a governor's race distracting the press.
 
But if Cicilline will be tough to beat - and I think he will - his chief problem may be this: after eight years in City Hall, with all its attendant controversies, he doesn't have a grand pool of good will to draw on; a problem compounded by the rigid, on-message feel to his public persona.
 
It seems that the media - and the public - are almost looking for a reason to turn on him.
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