PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — R.I. House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin Abney has announced he’s tossing his hat into the ring for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, joining a rapidly thickening throng of Democrats seeking to replace outgoing Congressman David Cicilline.
The Newport Democrat, who’s controlled the powerful finance panel since 2016, said he plans to finish out the current General Assembly session — which typically ends in June — before officially joining the race. As promised when previously mulling a run, Abney said his “immediate responsibility” is completing the state’s next budget before he turns to campaigning.
“During our campaign we will focus on the positive aspects of Rhode Island society, the things that will make us stronger as a state in which to live and raise a family, not just a laundry list of problems that do little to unite us or make our lives better,” Abney said in a statement announcing his plans.
“I will work tirelessly with our federal team in order that as resources are available at the federal level, Rhode Island gets its rightful fair share,” he added.
Abney joins 11 other Democrats currently seeking to replace Cicilline, who will step down from Congress midterm in June to take over as president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. No Republicans have announced plans to run yet.
The full list of the other Democrats seeking the office can be found here. And more are likely to keep joining, including Biden administration staffer Gabe Amo, whom 12 News has confirmed resigned from the White House this week. (His resignation was first reported by The Boston Globe.) Jamestown businessman Donald Carlson is also preparing a campaign.
The primary election has been scheduled for Sept. 5.
Abney, who served 20 years in the U.S. Army, noted his military record as an inspiration to dedicate his life to public service. His service included a tour at NATO headquarters in Belgium, along with the American embassies in Paris and the Netherlands.
“It was an incredible experience that taught me and my family a valuable lesson in learning to how to live and work with people and cultures that were different from our own,” Abney said. “I’ve used that experience in serving and working in nearly a dozen cities and towns across our great nation.”
Abney was first elected to the House in 2012, representing Newport and Middletown in District 73. He quickly rose through the ranks of House Democrats and become head of the influential Finance Committee four years later after the previous chairman, Ray Gallison, got jammed up in criminal activity. Gallison later pleaded guilty to nine counts tied to stealing funds from a trust fund set up for a person with special needs.
Abney, who was appointed by then-House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, kept the gavel after Mattiello lost and Joe Shekarchi replaced him as speaker. The position has powerful influence over what makes it into the state’s tax-and-spending plan each year.
Abney lives in Newport with his wife, Cheryl Lynn. They have three children and five grandchildren.
“I hope that as the process begins in earnest, you will join us in vigorous and lively debate as we all desire to make Rhode Island a place where honest hard work, respect for one another’s differences and a true willingness to forge meaningful compromise will rule the day,” Abney said.
Eli Sherman (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.
Ted Nesi and Tim White contributed to this report.