PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — House Speaker Joe Shekarchi announced Friday he won’t be a candidate in the special election to replace Congressman David Cicilline, resolving one of the biggest outstanding questions about the 1st Congressional District race.

“The outpouring of support I’ve received to run for Congress – from friends, family, neighbors, supporters, advocates, community leaders, elected officials, and well-wishers, both here in Rhode Island and beyond — has been humbling, overwhelming and inspiring,” Shekarchi, D-Warwick, said in a statement Friday morning. “It is an honor to know so many people have confidence that I could help get good things done in Washington just as we’ve done at the State House.”

“At this time, however, I believe I can do more to help our state by continuing in my role as speaker,” he continued. “This decision is not a political one but a deeply personal decision, after discussions with my family, close friends and House colleagues. I remain ever grateful for the opportunity to serve as speaker — a job I truly love.”

Shekarchi’s decision comes the same week Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos became the first major Democrat to jump into the 1st District race, leaving only one of the party’s biggest names still playing the waiting game: former gubernatorial candidate Helena Foulkes, who has yet to reveal her plans.

A Foulkes advisor said she is expected to announce her decision early next week.

Cicilline’s surprise resignation — which will take effect June 1, when he becomes CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation — has created Rhode Island’s second open U.S. House seat in as many years, an unusual turn of events in a state where members of Congress have frequently stayed put for decades.

A number of other Democrats are considering a 1st District bid, including state Sens. Sandra Cano and Dawn Euer, Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien, and Biden White House official Gabe Amo. No Republicans have announced campaigns so far.

Separately on Friday morning, former state Sen. Cynthia Mendes announced in a post on TikTok that she won’t seek the 1st District seat, either.

The primary is expected to take place in August or September, with the special election two months later.

Ted Nesi ( 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