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In the Phoenix: Cicilline's Comeback

If you haven't yet picked up today's Phoenix - blasphemy! - I've got a cover story on Congressman David Cicilline's steady, if little-noted comeback from the depths of late winter and early spring, when news broke of Providence's fiscal meltdown (the freshman Congressman, of course, had just come off a two-term stint as Providence mayor).

That he has sprung back, I think, is beyond debate. The Congressman's standing improved markedly between a high-profile May poll commissioned by WPRI-TV and a lower-profile poll conducted on behalf of GoLocalProv. in September. The real question is whether the numbers will hold when his opponents start buying TV time and reminding voters of Cicilline's Providence problem.

It's hard to know the answer to that question, a year out. But here's one key factor: whether Congressional Republicans will continue to rile the Democratic base and alienate independent voters, allowing Cicilline to change the subject in an effective manner. Given the record of the past year - the Tea Party has been remarkably effective in pushing the GOP to the right - that seems more likely than not.

But if Republican and Democratic legislators on the so-called "super committee" defy expectations and come up with a grand, balanced budget deal that passes Congress, the narrative of GOP intransigence could shift. We'll see.

In the meantime, news of a couple of Cicilline fundraisers of note that didn't make it into the story. On April 11, Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn was the special guest at a 75-person fundraiser for Cicilline at the East Side home of Toots Zynsky.

And on November 16, Congressman Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), is set to host a fundraiser for Cicilline at the National Democratic Club Townhouse in Washington. These on top of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer's recent fundraiser for the Congressman, which I mention in the story.

It's important not to overplay these leadership fundraisers - top Dems are helping out plenty of their fellow Congressmen. But they're worth noting, nonetheless.

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