One of Congressman David Cicilline's central challenges - as policymaker and politician facing a tough re-election fight - is his relatively powerless position as a freshman in the minority party. He will not be able to go to voters, in the coming months, with a lengthy list of accomplishments.
But that hasn't stopped him from attaching himself to several hot-button issues in his first year-plus in office.
Newly minted Democratic Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma came out of the gate this weekend hammering GOP rival Brendan Doherty, former superintendent of the state police. He said Doherty has been living "in a bubble" as a public servant and retired as soon as he could collect a pension.
Calling into question the integrity of a widely respected cop seems an odd way to endear himself to the moderate, middle-of-the-road voter he'll need in his Democratic primary challenge to David Cicilline and, should he prevail there, his general election contest against Doherty.
Further evidence that the race for Congressman David Cicilline's seat is ramping up: GOP rival Brendan Doherty has called on Cicilline to denounce the comments of Hillary Rosen, a Democratic operative who has donated to the Congressman's campaign and recently criticized Mitt Romney's wife Ann - saying she has "never worked a day in her life" and doesn't understand the struggles of average women.
If you haven't seen it, here's Cicilline spokeswoman Nicole Kayner's response to Doherty on the apologia:
"David Cicilline has accepted responsibility for decisions he made, including
the decision to avoid a tax increase during a recession. He explained that he
had been hopeful that the Carcieri administration would accept its
responsibility to the cities and towns of the district rather than cut $40
million from the Providence budget.
GOP Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty has released a sharply worded press release in the wake of Congressman David Cicilline's apology for telling voters in the heat of the 2010 political campaign that Providence, where he was serving as mayor, was in "excellent" fiscal condition.
Doherty points to a Providence auditor's report produced in April 2011 to argue that Cicilline was engaged in an "active concealment" of the city's budget problems that he has still failed to acknowledge.
As I reported earlier today on Twitter, Congressman David Cicilline is reporting a first-quarter fundraising haul of $316,000, leaving him with $700,000 on hand.
Ian Donnis, over at Rhode Island Public Radio, is now reporting that his GOP rival Brendan Doherty has raised $150,000, leaving him with about $560,000 on hand.
Tim White over at WPRI-TV has tweeted about a soon-to-be-aired interview with Congressman David Cicilline in which the incumbent apologizes for declaring the city of Providence in "excellent" fiscal condition during his 2010 Congressional run.
This is the start of a push to address the deep concerns about Cicilline's tenure as Providence mayor - and the way he discussed that tenure during the 2010 race.
The Washington Post's political blog, "The Fix," points out that the pols surrounding President Obama as he signed the STOCK Act - prohibiting insider trading by members of Congress - represent a "veritable who's who of endangered incumbents," including our own Congressman David Cicilline.
There was Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.
John J. Loughlin's resignation from the Hinckley for Senate campaign has sparked some speculation that he might enter the race for Congressman David Cicilline's seat. I just called him and he says "I haven't given any consideration" to the idea.
Loughlin, a former state representative, was the GOP nominee in the 2010 race for the seat and was expected to run again this time around.
GOP Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty has an op-ed in the Valley Breeze that may give the clearest indication, to date, about the shape of his message (at least the positive side of his message; he's saving any attacks on Congressman David Cicilline for another day).
That it is a moderate message is no surprise.
With Anthony Gemma poised to challenge Congressman David Cicilline in the Democratic primary, I've got a cover story this week on his curious Jekyll and Hyde act: a feel-good, quirky wonkery paired with angry attacks on the incumbent.
We got a taste of this approach in 2010. But Gemma was just one of four candidates for the seat and wasn't considered a significant threat to Cicilline until the closing weeks; the frontrunner, then, never really trained his fire on Gemma.
It is one of the central questions David Cicilline's campaign will face in his re-election bid. I write, of course, of whether the Congressman should try to rehab his record as Providence mayor.
He ran for Congress in 2010 from his perch in City Hall, declaring the city in excellent fiscal condition. That statement came back to bite him after the election - his successor, Mayor Angel Taveras, declared a "category 5 hurricane" on the city's books - and contributed, mightily, to his plummeting poll numbers.
This just in:
In what is surely a sign of more to come, the state's Democratic Party hit Republican Congressional Brendan Doherty yesterday for an interview on WPRI-TV's "Newsmakers" in which he suggested that the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire.
Doherty, the party claimed, had endorsed an "immediate tax increase for the middle class."
This morning, I dug a little deeper into the new WPRI poll that shows Republican Congressional candidate Brendan Doherty with a substantial lead - 49 to 34 percent - on incumbent Democratic Congressman David Cicilline. And I compared it to previous polls.
A couple of curious findings leap out.
In a May 2011 poll commissioned by WPRI, Doherty had a 46-point lead among independents - news of Providence's fiscal woes weighing heavily on Cicilline, fresh off a two-term stint as mayor of the capital city.