PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos has begun calling allies to say she plans to enter the Democratic primary to replace Congressman David Cicilline, 12 News has learned.
Evan England, a spokesperson for Matos, declined to confirm or deny her decision but told 12 News: “We expect to have an announcement Monday.” Multiple sources confirmed that she informed others about her plans on Thursday.
Matos — who was appointed lieutenant governor two years ago and won a full term last fall — would be the first big-name Democrat to jump into the special election. Cicilline unexpectedly announced last month he would resign on June 1 to become CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, opening up his 1st Congressional District seat for the first time since 2010.
Two other prominent Democrats, House Speaker Joe Shekarchi and former gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes, are both still weighing whether to enter the primary. Shekarchi held a well-attended fundraiser in Washington on Wednesday night, adding to the $1.7 million in his state campaign account that he will seek to transfer to put toward a federal race if he runs.
A number of other Democrats are also considering a run, including Biden White House official Gabe Amo, state Sen. Sandra Cano and Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien.
The actual dates for the election are still in flux, but Secretary of State Gregg Amore has indicated he expects the primary to take place in August or September, with the special election two months later.
Fundraising will be a major task for Matos, whose campaign account had less than $500 as of Dec. 31 plus $150,000 in outstanding personal loans she has made to fund her past campaigns. But she has other advantages, as a statewide officeholder and first-generation Afro-Latina immigrant who would be the first Democratic woman ever elected to Congress in Rhode Island if she won.
Matos represented Olneyville and surrounding neighborhoods on the Providence City Council, putting her home in Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, now represented by Seth Magaziner. But congressional candidates are only required to live in the state they want to represent, not the actual district.
The only 1st District hopeful who has filed formal candidacy paperwork with the Federal Election Commission so far is Allen Waters, the Republican nominee against Cicilline for the seat last November, who is running as a Democrat this time.
No Republicans have announced campaigns for the 1st District seat so far. The GOP faces tough sledding in the district, which covers the eastern side of Rhode Island and which supported Joe Biden over Donald Trump by nearly 30 points in the 2020 presidential election.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 Twitter and Facebook