Happy Saturday! Here’s another edition of my weekend column for WPRI.com — as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to tnesi@wpri.com and follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

1. One thing you can say about Allan Fung: he is battle-hardened. Fung and his wife, state Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, have been on the ballot in every Rhode Island general election for the last 20 years, posting a 7-3 winning record. Campaigning is second nature to the Fungs, which is one of the reasons Democrats fear he is the rare Republican who can flip a House seat in New England in this polarized era. On the other hand, two of Fung’s three losses came when he sought to move up from Cranston City Hall to a bigger office, as governor. (The other loss was his first run for mayor in 2006.) One reason for Fung’s gubernatorial defeats: he struggled to find his footing ideologically between the conservative GOP base, a Democratic-leaning electorate, and his own mixed instincts. As a candidate for Congress, however, Fung already seems to be having less trouble on that front. His major primary opponents have both quit the race, and the inflation crisis has given him an organizing principle for his candidacy that resonates across the spectrum. And that’s one reason why Democrats are trying so hard to shift the focus to other, less popular Republicans. “Allan Fung’s first vote is going to be for Kevin McCarthy; Kevin McCarthy’s first phone call is going to be to Donald Trump,” Congressman Jake Auchincloss told me this week as he joined the growing list of leading Democrats endorsing Seth Magaziner for the seat. Appearing on this week’s Newsmakers, Fung made no apologies for his support for McCarthy. “News flash: the Republicans are going to take control of Congress,” he said. “Rhode Islanders need a voice with someone on the opposite side, on the side of the majority.”

2. On the issues, Allan Fung’s positioning is still coming into focus. Inflation is central to his platform, especially energy prices, and he expressed support for more U.S. energy production as well as the CHIPS Act (which, ironically, his old rival Gina Raimondo is also pushing). Abortion has become a key part of the Democrats’ campaign against him, and Fung indicated that while he opposes the Women’s Health Protection Act, he also opposes a national ban on abortion; he suggested federal abortion restrictions should be modeled on those in Europe. As for federal same-sex marriage rights — which Justice Clarence Thomas suggested also could be on the chopping block — Fung indicated he now supports marriage equality and he thinks Thomas is isolated in his views. Asked to name an issue where he could see himself breaking with the national GOP, Fung cited environmental policy. “We’re in the Ocean State,” he said on Newsmakers. “I am one of those Republicans that can say those two words, ‘climate change.’ I’ve seen the man-made impacts; in fact, during my 12 years as mayor, we invested and leveraged some of those federal dollars that came in with our city dollars to buy back some of those properties that are in flood-prone areas and restore it back to the natural habitat to mitigate some of those flooding disasters, because of decisions made years ago.”

3. Seth Magaziner’s Treasury office is giving him a boost as he runs for Congress.

4. To twerk or not to twerk? That was the question throughout the week, as a TikTok video by state Sen. Tiara Mack gained massive attention on social media. Mack, a 28-year-old Providence Democrat who identifies as queer, won a major victory for progressives two years ago when she ousted socially conservative incumbent Harold Metts; she is currently seeking re-election. In a one-on-one interview with me Friday, Mack expressed no second thoughts about the TikTik video, saying she has capitalized on the attention to promote her agenda and shift people’s assumptions about how elected officials must behave. “I’ve struggled with the idea that in order to be respected, I have to be fully clothed and buttoned up and I have to be performing in a way that is inauthentic to myself,” she said — while acknowledging that even her mom reacted negatively to the video when she first saw it. You can watch Mack’s full 20-minute conversation with me here.

5. New twists this week in the Democratic primary for governor. Dan McKee finally joined his two leading rivals on the TV airwaves — but not out of his own campaign account. The R.I. Building & Construction Trades Council is spending $100,000 to air a new commercial touting McKee’s accomplishments, as he continues to hold off on launching his own advertising campaign. It marks the first outside spending in the race for governor, though a super PAC backing Helena Foulkes has been formed and Emily’s List could still come in for Nellie Gorbea. Meanwhile, the McKee campaign has cut ties with its original media consultant — SKDK — and is now working with AL Media in preparation for a final blitz. Gorbea also shifted strategy on TV this week, swapping out her opening introductory ad for a new spot on housing.

6. When Jake Auchincloss told me he was endorsing Seth Magaziner, one of the reasons that the 34-year-old Massachusetts congressman cited was the fact that Magaziner is a fellow Millennial dad. Considering Washington’s geriatric lean these days — Joe Biden is 79, Nancy Pelosi is 82, and Mitch McConnell is 80 — I asked Auchincloss how much generational diversity in Congress really matters. “A lot,” he replied. “More than I actually appreciated coming into the House. I’m the youngest parent in the Democratic caucus, House or Senate, and the second-youngest in the full Congress. And there’s no question that whether we’re talking about gun violence, climate change, or the defining economic and social issues of the day, that being a Millennial and a young parent gives you a different lens on these issues, a different sense of urgency and, I think, a fresh perspective to offer independent solutions to longstanding challenges.”

7. Speaking of Massachusetts, the mayor of our region’s second-largest city — New Bedford’s Jon Mitchell — is still on the sidelines when it comes to the many open constitutional offices in the Bay State. Mitchell, who considered a run for attorney general, hasn’t endorsed in any of the races so far — with no incumbent on the ballot for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general or auditor. Mitchell’s counterpart in Fall River, Paul Coogan, waded into the primary for LG this week by giving his backing to a fellow mayor, Salem’s Kim Driscoll. Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux has his own election to worry about, since he is one of three Democrats seeking to oust Republican Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson, along with Fall River attorney Nick Bernier and former Somerset Police Chief George McNeil.

8. After all that drama, Care New England no longer plans to merge with a bigger hospital group.

9. Did you know two 20-something Rhode Island natives are battling each other for scoops at the U.S. Justice Department? Rob Legare works for CBS News, while Luke Barr works for ABC News, both on the justice beat. Like many great rivalries, theirs is good-natured but real: each one has griped to me when the other landed a story first. And this is a big weekend for both. Legare, who attended Bishop Hendricken, is getting married to fiancée Sarah Barrett today at Holy Cross, where they met. And Barr — a Wheeler grad whose father, Classical High Principal Scott Barr, was just named Rhode Island Principal of the Year — is turning the ripe old age of 27. A hearty Nesi’s Notes congratulations to two guys who are both going places. On Twitter, you can follow Rob here and Luke here.

10. More matrimony: congratulations to former Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former First Lady Stephanie Chafee, whose daughter Louisa Chafee, an accomplished sailor, is getting married today.

11. Here’s a dispatch from my Target 12 colleague Eli Sherman: “Multiple investigations stemming from the Aaron Thomas naked fat-test scandal are likely coming to a head over the next couple months in North Kingstown. First, Rhode Island U.S. District Attorney Zachary Cunha told Tim White and Ted Nesi he wants to wrap up his civil-rights investigation of the school district – where Thomas coached and performed body-fat tests on underage student athletes while they were naked and alone with him behind closed doors over multiple decades — before the start of the new school year. The disclosure of that timeframe spurred private attorney Timothy Conlon this week to share several statements from current and former students who have come forward over the past couple months with allegations against two other coaches, both of whom are currently on leave pending internal investigations. The statements allege the coaches inappropriately interacted with both middle and high schoolers, overlapping with several of the same years as Thomas. Secondly, Attorney General Peter Neronha told my colleague Chelsea Jones nearly a month ago he would complete his criminal probe into whether Thomas broke any laws – which Thomas has denied — within weeks. The highly anticipated decision will likely signal what comes next for a community that has been reeling for more than half a year.” 

12. Look for Brown’s Dr. Megan Ranney on “CBS Sunday Morning” this weekend.

13. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred swears he doesn’t actually hate baseball.

14. Grab a tissue for this one: Michael Gerson on the joy of dogs. (Love you, Marcus!)

15. Set your DVRs: This week on Newsmakers — congressional candidate Allan Fung. Watch Sunday at 5:30 a.m. on WPRI 12 or 10 a.m. on Fox Providence, or listen on the radio Sundays at 6 p.m. on WPRO. You can also subscribe to Newsmakers as a podcast on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts). See you back here next Saturday.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.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 Twitter and Facebook

An earlier version of this column misstated Luke Barr’s age by one year.