PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Retiring Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin is blasting a super PAC allied with House Republicans for sending voters a mailer that quotes him speaking warmly about Allan Fung, the GOP nominee for his seat.
“I want the voters of Rhode Island to know that someone is trying to pull the wool over their eyes,” Langevin told 12 News in an interview Thursday, noting that he endorsed Democratic nominee Seth Magaziner as his successor months ago.
The mailer was sent by Congressional Leadership Fund, the main super PAC helping House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy in his efforts to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives this fall.
Next to a smiling picture of Langevin, the mailer reprints two quotes he has given about Fung in recent months. The first quote is from August, when Langevin told the news outlet Politico: “I have nothing bad to say about Allan.” The second appears to be from June, when Langevin said of Fung: “I consider him a friend.”
Langevin argued the comments were taken out of context because he has also been clear about his support for Magaziner.
“I’m upset and disappointed that Allan Fung and his buddies would put out a blatantly disingenuous mailer that really distracts from the fact that Allan unfortunately would vote against and wouldn’t support things that I’ve been working on for the last 22 years,” he said.
“It’s wrong,” Langevin added. “I’m really disappointed.”
Congressional Leadership Fund has committed $2 million so far to help Fung, whose lead in the polls is drawing national attention as he seeks to flip a blue-state seat that Democrats have held since 1991. (As an outside spending group, the organization cannot directly coordinate with Fung and his campaign.)
The mailer also quotes Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, who made headlines for telling reporters that Fung is “a quality candidate” and “not an extremist.” Hoyer’s comment caused exasperation among Democrats because it contradicted TV ads being aired by Magaziner and his allies that label Fung “extreme.”
Calvin Moore, a spokesperson for Congressional Leadership Fund, stood by the mailer Thursday.
“The quotes are accurate and used exactly as intended because the truth is Allan Fung has a long history of working across the aisle and is popular with leaders in both parties,” Moore told 12 News.
“We’re just pointing out the obvious and Magaziner’s camp is only grumbling now because, like everything else in his life, Seth wants the seat handed to him on a silver platter,” he continued.
In the interview, Langevin tacitly walked back his description of Fung as “a nice guy,” focusing on the Republican nominee’s support for McCarthy, who is expected to replace Nancy Pelosi as speaker if Republicans win the majority.
“Nice guys don’t carry water for the NRA and refuse to take weapons of war off our streets,” Langevin said. “Nice guys don’t support a radical MAGA right-wing agenda coming to the [House] floor that is going to work against the working families that I’ve been trying to fight for and work for over the last 22 years. That’s why I’m so upset.”
Langevin said he was particularly disturbed that Fung would support McCarthy because the GOP leader was among the Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the 2020 election.
“That should scare absolutely everyone,” Langevin said. “I’m really worried about future elections in this country where, irrespective of the facts, they say that elections are stolen, that votes weren’t accurately counted.”
“Are we going to have election deniers running the House of Representatives? Are we going to have Jim Jordan as chairman of the Judiciary Committee?” he said, arguing that even if Fung tries to be an independent voice in the GOP caucus, he “wouldn’t be shaping the agenda.”
Fung has studiously avoided criticism of Langevin, who first won the 2nd District seat in 2000 and has been re-elected 10 times since then, including by double-digits two years ago.
Steven Paiva, a spokesperson for Fung, again declined to take aim at Langevin on Thursday despite the congressman’s latest comments.
“Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, which is fully supported by Seth Magaziner, has been a disaster for working-class Rhode Islanders and seniors living on fixed incomes,” Paiva said in a statement.
“Allan looks forward to casting his vote to fire Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House so we can finally get our economy back on track and address rising prices on everything from food to home heating costs,” he said.
Langevin noted that he endorsed Magaziner while the Democrat was still facing multiple primary opponents, and said he plans to hit the campaign trail for him in the coming weeks.
“It’s so important to keep this seat blue,” he said.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Threads, Twitter and Facebook.