Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District Election: Seth Magaziner vs. Allan Fung

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


National and Global News


by Sarah McLaughlin ’23

Photo courtesy of the Providence Journal

With Congressman Jim Langevin not seeking re-election, the Rhode Island 2nd Congressional District seat is up for grabs this election season. The Providence College campus, as well as the surrounding off-campus neighborhood, is a part of this district, which spans from western Providence to the northwestern, southwestern, and southeastern reaches of the state.

Democrat Seth Magaziner and Republican Allan Fung are the two leading opponents for the seat. Magaziner is the current Rhode Island General Treasurer, has a teaching background, and is a graduate of both Brown University and Yale University. Fung has served as the current mayor of Cranston since 2008, has a law background, and is a graduate of Rhode Island College and Suffolk University Law School. Both candidates have previously run for governor and were unsuccessful. Magaziner originally began this year’s election season with a bid for governor, announcing his candidacy in September 2021. In January, he changed course for Congress.

Magaziner states that he “is running for Congress to fight for the middle class and those working hard to join it.” He pledges to protect Social Security and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), lower the price of prescription drugs, and lower gas prices by returning the profits of big oil companies to consumers. He has stated he supports suspending the federal gas tax. Magaziner is pro-choice; he helped pass the Reproductive Privacy Act, which codified Roe v. Wade into Rhode Island state law. He has also initiated clean energy programs as the state’s treasurer. Magaziner has received the endorsement of current Congressman Langevin.

Fung also pledges that he will lower the cost of living and gas prices. He argues that the U.S. should not be dependent on imported oil and that we should instead increase domestic oil production. He has stated that he is in favor of completing undrilled oil wells. Fung also states that concerning energy, he is “laser-focused on bringing new approaches…to the table that protect working families’ paychecks while also preserving our environment for years to come.” He believes that renewable energy brings an opportunity to create jobs in Rhode Island, stating, “Let’s take the debate over climate solutions out of the political arena and put [it] into the paycheck arena.” On the issue of abortion, Fung’s views are unclear. In 2018, he said he supported “a woman’s right to make medical decisions,” with some restrictions. If he wins, Fung would be the first nonwhite representative of Rhode Island in Congress.

The two candidates went head-to-head in two debates this week. The first debate took place on Monday, Oct. 17 at the URI Kingston campus. It also featured independent candidate Bill Gilbert, who is currently polling at about 5 percent.

Among other topics discussed were the events of January 6, 2021. “January 6 was a very dark day in our country’s history, and I spoke out on that day,” Fung stated, likely in an attempt to differentiate himself from the Republicans who supported the events. “I’m not President Trump,” he said. “I don’t act that way. I’m not about divisiveness.” However, Magaziner pointed out that Fung has “made clear” that he would vote to “put election deniers in charge of the House,” citing his support of Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan. Fung argued that Magaziner’s support of Nancy Pelosi is a larger issue, believing that her actions have “crippled the economy.”

I spoke with Dr. Cammarano of the PC Political Science Department about his thoughts on the debate. “This is a year where both sides are trying to say they’re not like the typical person in their party,” he said. “The reality is they’re both going to vote with their party.”

Magaziner also spoke on how he supports lowering interest rates for student loans so students can focus on pursuing their desired careers after graduation. Fung agreed that he would support lowering the interest rates, and he also stated he would support “doubling the amount of Pell grants” awarded.

On the topic of abortion, Magaziner stated, “There’s no ambiguity about where I am.” He argued that Fung, on the other hand, has gone back and forth on the issue. Fung pushed back, stating that he has made clear his opposition to a national abortion ban.

Independent candidate Bill Gilbert, who has thus far run a very low-profile campaign, spoke on how he believes “hyperpartisanship” is a major issue dividing the country. “We’re still running against Trump, and he’s not in office,” he stated. “We need to heal.” He also argued in favor of public funding for STEM fields and vocational training.

The second debate took place on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at Providence Performing Arts Center. Issues on which the two candidates agreed include federal legalization of marijuana, federal protection of same-sex marriage, and instituting term limits for both Supreme Court justies and congresspeople. 

According to Suffolk University and Boston Globe polling data from Oct. 12, Fung leads Magaziner 45 percent to 37 percent. 13 percent of voters remain undecided. David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, stated, “Fung has a lead in this race due to overwhelming support from men, independents, and older voters.” Meanwhile, Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, a Democrat, leads Republican challenger Ashley Kalus 46 percent to 36 percent. Paleologos believes independent voters are responsible in both cases. Fung and McKee both have a hold over independents.

Polling data from Fleming & Associates gives Fung a 6-point lead, while data from the Mellman Group gives Fung a 3-point lead. Despite the polling data it cites, FiveThirtyEight still judges the race in favor of Magaziner; the analysts give him a 55 percent chance of winning as of Oct. 17. However, as Dr. Cammarano pointed out, the margin of error is about 6 points. “We just don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “I would still say Magaziner has an edge, but he has a certain vulnerability.” Dr. Cammarano noted how while Magaziner only recently moved to his district, Fung has lived in and governed Cranston for years. 

While Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball categorize the race as one that leans democratic, The Cook Political Report rates it as a toss-up. This seat could be up for grabs for either candidate. The House could potentially swing in favor of the Republicans depending on how many of these toss-up seats they win.

Rhode Island is generally thought of as a deep blue state, but the more rural parts of this district have the potential to vote red. “If water is touching a town, it tends to be Democratic,” Dr. Cammarano stated. Biden won all five counties in the 2020 election, as did Democratic Senator John Reed. However, while Biden saw large margins of victory in the coastal cities like Providence, Warwick, Newport, and Narragansett, he lost many of the inland towns, such as Burrillville, Glocester, Scituate, and Foster, all of which are a part of the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Thus, the race could truly go either way.

If you are registered to vote in Rhode Island, remember that your vote counts. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, and the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.