CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung announced Friday he is planning to jump into the race to succeed retiring Congressman Jim Langevin, adding a high-profile Republican to the growing list of candidates seeking the seat.
In an email headlined “I’M BACK,” Fung told supporters he filed paperwork Friday with the Federal Election Commission establishing a new committee called Friends of Allan Fung to raise money for the 2nd Congressional District race.
“We need a different type of leader in D.C.,” he wrote. “We need a problem solver. We need leaders who are willing to work with people on both sides of the aisle to bring common sense solutions to our everyday problems. I did just that in Cranston, and I can’t wait to do that for you as your next congressman.”
Fung — who had been seriously considering a bid for general treasurer this fall before Langevin’s seat opened up — said he planned “an official campaign launch in the near future.”
Fung is the third Republican to announce plans to run for the 2nd District seat. Former state Rep. Bob Lancia, who mounted an unsuccessful challenge against Langevin in 2020, was already running for the seat before Langevin’s retirement announcement. State Sen. Jessica de la Cruz announced last month she would also seek the GOP nomination for the seat.
“This is America, and everyone has a right to pursue his or her dream,” Lancia said in a statement. “The action taken today by the former mayor was anticipated and does nothing to change the direction of #TeamLancia.”
Fung, 51, will start out the race with high name recognition from his 12 years leading Cranston, home to roughly 15% of voters in the 2nd District. He was also the Republican nominee for governor in 2014 and 2018, losing both races to Democrat Gina Raimondo but building a fundraising network and statewide base of support.
Fung left Cranston City Hall at the end of 2020 due to term limits, and has been working since then as a partner at the law firm Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC. His clients have included the McKee administration, which hired him last August to help provide legal advice around the spending of federal pandemic relief funds.
Fung’s wife is state Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, who represents House District 15 in Cranston.
Five Democrats have launched campaigns for the 2nd District seat so far: Refugee Dream Center founder Omar Bah, former political staffer Joy Fox, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, political operative Michael Neary, and former state Rep. Ed Pacheco. Other Democrats are still considering a run.
While Democrats have held the 2nd District seat since 1991, political analysts have suggested Republicans have a shot this November depending on the party’s nominee, due to a conservative shift in parts of the district and the difficult national political environment for Democrats.
Within minutes of Fung’s announcement, Magaziner issued a statement seeing to tie him to Republican leaders in Washington, and soon after sent a campaign blast to his supporters seeking to raise money off the new entry into the race.
“The very first vote Allan Fung would cast in Washington would be to turn control of Congress over to the Republican leadership who care more about doing Donald Trump’s bidding than they do about delivering results for working families,” Magaziner said.
In his message to supporters, Fung sought to separate himself from both parties in Washington.
“Instead of focusing on the problems weighing on people each night at the dinner table, D.C. politicians spend their time attacking one another with the same old talking points,” he wrote. “We do not need more hyperpartisan politicians.”
12 News political analyst Joe Fleming said Fung’s decision to mount a campaign shows why Republicans see an opportunity and Democrats see a risk in the 2nd District contest. “It’s going to be a competitive race — there’s no question about that,” he said, suggesting both parties’ national campaign arms could wind up spending money on the race.
While Fung currently has two Republican primary rivals, “he’s by far the best-known of the three,” Fleming said. “I think he needs to stay more toward the middle to try to grab some of the independents and Democrats in the general election. … He saw that when he ran for governor, when he got pushed to the right and it was tough to move back toward the middle.”
Ted Nesi (email@example.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