Republicans Eye Flipping House Seat in America’s Smallest State

Republicans Eye Flipping House Seat in America’s Smallest State

The smallest state in America could cause the biggest upset to Democrats in the 2020 midterm elections.

Allan Fung, a self-professed middle-of-the-road Republican, is showing a comfortable lead in polls over six Democrats in his bid for Rhode Island’s second district Congressional seat in Washington DC.

While he is hardly the only moderate Republican showing some promise in flipping a Democrat seat in the mid-term elections, his popularity in progressive New England is unprecedented and seen as a potential omen of what’s to come nationally.

“The possibility of a Republican in Rhode Island winning a congressional seat could have national implications in similar districts,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

The polling center conducted a statewide survey showing Fung, the lone Republican contender in the race, with a six to ten percent favorability over Democrats in the general election. He has the advantage of not running against incumbent James Langevin, who is not seeking re-election in the deep blue state for the first time since 2001.

That leaves six new faces for voters to choose from for the Democratic ticket in Rhode Island’s primaries, which will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Despite his popularity, Fung’s chance of beating the winner seems like a long shot given how long its been since voters in the “Little Rhody,” as it is nicknamed, have sent a Republican to Washington DC.

The last one was Lincoln Chaffee, who served his final year as a U.S. Senator in 2007. Chaffee then changed his party affiliation to Democrat and was elected governor.

Democrats have dominated New England’s collective political makeup in U.S. Congress for quite a while.

The only exception is Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who has been anything but warmly embraced by Republican party liners.

She was one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict former Presidents Donald Trump of citing an insurrection on Jan. 6.

Fung’s campaigning has been mostly void of Trump themes. The popular former mayor of Cranston, who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2014, has kept his focus on criticizing Biden for what Fung has called the worst economy ever in modern politics.

In running his first TV ad in his campaign just two weeks before the primaries, Fung appears at the gas pump questioning high fuel prices, high-fiving a police officer, greeting regular citizens in the streets, and promoting his “middle-of-the-road” ideologies.

While he is running as a pro-choice candidate, Fung in the past stood staunchly in favor of curbing abortion rights laws.

But like Trump’s “Make America Great Slogan” slogan, Fung’s catchy campaign catchphrase, “It’s Time For America’s Comeback,” seems to resonate with Republicans.

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently showed up in Rhode Island to stump for Fung.

In echoing Fung’s call to put America before party politics, McCarthy, in an Aug. 6 interview with Rhode Island’s Channel 10, said that his support for Fung is not about him being Republican but about “America getting back on the right track.”

The California Congressman cited Fung’s strong stand against defunding the police, illegal immigration, and Biden’s inflationary policies as reasons he made the trip to the east coast state to campaign for him.

“Of all the places across the country I could come to, this was one of the first places I made sure I can,” McCarthy said, “When you meet Allan, you know he’s special.”


Alice Giordano is a former news correspondent for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and New England bureau of The New York Times.

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