PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos has become the first major Democrat to jump into the race to replace David Cicilline in Congress.

Matos announced in a news release Monday that she will officially run for the 1st Congressional District in the special election to be held later this year. 12 News first reported Matos’ intention to run on Thursday.

The former president of the Providence City Council, Matos was picked to fill the vacant lieutenant governor seat in 2021, then won her own four-year term in 2022. An immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Matos is the first Afro-Latina to serve in the state’s second-highest office.

The congressional seat will become open by June 1, when Cicilline plans to resign to lead the Rhode Island Foundation. The Democratic primary is expected to be held in August or September, though an exact date has not yet been set.

“I’m running for Congress because Rhode Islanders deserve a champion who has a deep connection and commitment to the vibrant communities that make up our state,” Matos said in a statement. “We’re facing an important moment in Washington. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and continue fighting for the things that matter to Rhode Islanders: addressing affordable housing, protecting reproductive freedom, working to solve our climate crisis, and standing up to threats to our democracy.”

Matos is expected to hold a kickoff event in April. Her campaign declined a request to interview her on Monday.

A resident of Olneyville, Matos does not currently live in the 1st District, though candidates are only required to live in Rhode Island.

Two other prominent Democrats, House Speaker Joe Shekarchi and former gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes, are both still weighing whether to enter the primary. Neither of them live in the 1st District either, though Foulkes has said she’s in the process of moving there.

A number of other Democrats are also considering a run, including Biden White House official Gabe Amo, state Sen. Sandra Cano, Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien and others.

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, which is more heavily Democratic than the 2nd District.

The 1st District stretches down the eastern half of Rhode Island from Woonsocket to Little Compton, and includes the East Bay, Aquidneck Island and much of the urban core, including half the city of Providence.

Rhode Island has never sent a Democratic woman to Congress.

Steph Machado ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.