Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2010, 2nd term.

Born: July 15, 1961, Providence

Home: Providence

Education: Brown U., B.A. 1983; Georgetown U., J.D. 1986.

Professional Career: Public defender, 1986-87.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Jewish

Family: Single

Democrat David Cicilline was elected in 2010 to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy. A liberal former mayor of Providence, Cicilline’s popularity plummeted with news of his messy stewardship of the city’s finances, but he recovered in time to win reelection comfortably in 2012.

Cicilline (sis-ih-LEE-nee) was born in Providence, the middle of five children. His parents eloped when his mother was 16 and his father 17, which caused some tension between the two families. His mother is Jewish and his father is Catholic, and Cicilline grew up celebrating the traditions of both religions. He now identifies as Jewish. His father was a criminal defense attorney. Cicilline was interested in politics from a young age. When he was 10, he wrote letters to his elected representatives when he had something on his mind, and at 14, he had his parents drop him off at city council meetings so he could participate in the public comment period. In high school, Cicilline wanted to study Italian, but his school did not offer it. He did some research and discovered an obscure state law requiring schools to offer a language course if eight or more students expressed interest. He submitted a list of interested students to the school board, obliging the school to hire an Italian teacher.

Cicilline attended Brown University, where he majored in political science and founded, along with classmate John F. Kennedy, Jr., a chapter of the College Democrats. He was active in student government and worked two jobs waiting tables. Cicilline came out as gay in college and says he was fortunate to have a supportive family. After getting a law degree from Georgetown University, he remained in Washington to work as a public defender for juveniles. In addition to defending the youths in court, Cicilline sometimes enrolled them in school, substance-abuse treatment, and other support services.

He returned to Rhode Island to campaign for the state Senate. He lost that bid but ran for the state House two years later and won. In the legislature, he supported a variety of liberal policies. He pushed to raise the legal age to buy a gun from 13 to 18, introduced a bill creating a needle exchange program for drug users, and fought attempts to restrict abortion rights.

After four two-year terms, Cicilline ran for mayor of Providence in 2002. He campaigned as a reformer, promising to clean up the city after the 21-year reign of Buddy Cianci, who was convicted of corruption. Cicilline beat several other prominent politicians in the Democratic primary with 53% of the vote. He went on to win the general election in a landslide, becoming the first openly gay mayor of a state capital city. In office, Cicilline sought to end cronyism in the police department and expanded after-school programs. But as the city’s revenue shriveled in the recession, he laid off nearly 500 city employees and raised property taxes. Cicilline also served as president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors.

When Patrick Kennedy decided against seeking reelection in 2010, Cicilline ran in the primary for the seat and defeated businessman Anthony Gemma, state Rep. David Segal, and former state party Chairman Bill Lynch for the nomination, winning 37% of the vote. In the general election, Cicilline campaigned as a pragmatist focused on creating jobs. His Republican opponent, state Rep. John Loughlin, emphasized the state’s economic condition and said he would balance the budget. Cicilline raised $1.7 million, easily outpacing Loughlin, and won 51% to 45%, with an independent candidate collecting 4%. It was an unusually close outcome in the heavily Democratic district and a testament to the strength of the Republican trend in 2010.

When he took office in January 2011, Cicilline became the fourth openly gay member of Congress. He established a solidly liberal voting record but also co-founded the Common Ground Caucus, a bipartisan group of House members that meet regularly to foster greater cooperation. He spoke out forcefully against proposed GOP budget cuts to programs for low-income citizens, and he tried without success in 2011 and 2012 to amend spending bills to take money from Afghanistan reconstruction and apply it to spending reduction.

But Cicilline spent his first term under a cloud. The Providence Journal reported in early 2011 that the city had a $180 million deficit for the next two fiscal years and that its reserve fund was almost depleted. A nonpartisan bond rating agency, Fitch Ratings, downgraded the city’s rating and criticized Cicilline’s administration for “imprudent budgeting decisions.” Cicilline said he was forced to use reserve money to prevent sharp cuts to city programs. But a Brown University poll in March showed his approval at an unhealthy 17%, and he went on an apology tour to acknowledge he should have been more forthcoming about Providence’s fiscal problems.

In 2012, he turned back another Democratic primary challenge from Gemma, getting 62% of the vote after an ugly race in which Gemma accused the congressman of voter fraud, an allegation Cicilline called “absolutely absurd.” His general election rival was Republican Brendan Doherty, a former state police superintendent who received generous support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and national Republicans. Cicilline sought to link Doherty to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, which resonated in the Democratic-dominated district. He won 53%-41%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4911

(202) 225-3290

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2244
Washington, DC 20515-3901

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4911

(202) 225-3290

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2244
Washington, DC 20515-3901

DISTRICT OFFICE

(401) 729-5600

(401) 729-5608

1070 Main Street Suite 300
Pawtucket, RI 02860-4974

DISTRICT OFFICE

(401) 729-5600

(401) 729-5608

1070 Main Street Suite 300
Pawtucket, RI 02860-4974

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(401) 553-2010

30 Blackstone Boulevard Apt. 202
Providence, RI 02906

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

30 Blackstone Boulevard Apt. 202
Providence, RI 02906

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Aerospace

Ross Brennan
Legislative Aide

Appropriations

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Budget

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Energy

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Lisha Gomes
Caseworker

Environment

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Govt Ops

Matthew McGinn
Legislative Assistant

Ross Brennan
Legislative Aide

Lisha Gomes
Caseworker

Health

Matthew McGinn
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Matthew McGinn
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Ferras Vinh
Legislative Counsel

Lisha Gomes
Caseworker

Human Rights

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Immigration

Ferras Vinh
Legislative Counsel

Intelligence

Matthew McGinn
Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Ferras Vinh
Legislative Counsel

Labor

Ferras Vinh
Legislative Counsel

Medicare

Matthew McGinn
Legislative Assistant

Rita Murphy
Senior Director of Constituent Services

Military

Matthew McGinn
Legislative Assistant

Native Americans

Ross Brennan
Legislative Aide

Science

Ross Brennan
Legislative Aide

Seniors

Rita Murphy
Senior Director of Constituent Services

Social Security

Matthew McGinn
Legislative Assistant

Rita Murphy
Senior Director of Constituent Services

Tax

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Lisha Gomes
Caseworker

Technology

Ferras Vinh
Legislative Counsel

Telecommunications

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Ferras Vinh
Legislative Counsel

Trade

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Transportation

Sarah Trister
Legislative Director

Ross Brennan
Legislative Aide

Lisha Gomes
Caseworker

Veterans

Matthew McGinn
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
David Cicilline
Votes: 108,612
Percent: 53.02%
Brendan Doherty
Votes: 83,737
Percent: 40.88%
David Vogel
Votes: 12,504
Percent: 6.1%
2012 PRIMARY
David Cicilline
Votes: 30,203
Percent: 62.14%
Anthony Gemma
Votes: 14,702
Percent: 30.25%
Christopher Young
Votes: 3,701
Percent: 7.61%
2010 GENERAL
David Cicilline
Votes: 81,269
Percent: 50.61%
John Loughlin
Votes: 71,542
Percent: 44.56%
2010 PRIMARY
David Cicilline
Votes: 21,142
Percent: 37.21%
Anthony Gemma
Votes: 13,112
Percent: 23.08%
David Segal
Votes: 11,397
Percent: 20.06%
William Lynch
Votes: 11,161
Percent: 19.65%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (51%)

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