Gay Congressman announces he is resigning

Rep. David Cicilline
Rep. David Cicilline Photo: Shutterstock

Fresh from winning his seventh term in Congress representing Rhode Island’s First Congressional District, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) announced that he is leaving his job well before his term is over this coming June in order to lead a nonprofit organization.

Cicilline, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, announced that he will be the next president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, which manages charitable funds set up by donors to give to other local organizations. According to WPRI, the position paid over $1 million a year in 2019.

“Serving the people of Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District has been the honor of my lifetime,” Cicilline said in a statement. “As president and CEO of one of the largest and oldest community foundations in the nation, I look forward to expanding on the work I have led for nearly thirty years in helping to improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders.”

He said that he would be gone by June 1 of this year, but his staff will keep district offices open until a special election can be held and a new representative can be elected.

Cicilline first entered politics when he was elected to the state General Assembly in 1994 and then became mayor of Providence in 2002, making him the first out gay mayor of that city.

In Congress, Cicilline has been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, introducing a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act in 2011. Since 2015, he has introduced the Equality Act, a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories to federal civil rights legislation. The bill passed the House in 2019 and 2021 but the Senate failed to pass it in those sessions of Congress.

Cicilline voted twice to impeach Donald Trump and was the impeachment manager for Trump’s second trial in the Senate.

Rhode Island’s First Congressional District leans heavily Democratic, so the party is unlikely to lose the seat in the upcoming special election. Several Democrats are expected to run in the primary, and Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera has already announced her intention to run.

“Over the coming days, I will be speaking with my friends, family, and colleagues about my future and the need for Rhode Island to continue to have a strong, bold, Democratic voice in D.C.,” she said in a statement.

“I expect a very crowded Democratic primary field,” said Rhode Island political analyst Joe Fleming. “It’s not very often in Rhode Island a congressional seat opens up, and I think a lot of Democrats are going to really take a strong look at this and decide if it’s feasible for them to run.”

He said that he expects the election to be won based on “name recognition and raising a lot of money to get the voters out” because it’ll be a special election.

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