Republicans Eye Flipping US House Seat in Smallest State

By Alice Giordano
Alice Giordano
Alice Giordano
Freelance reporter
Alice Giordano is a freelance reporter for The Epoch Times. She is a former news correspondent for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and the New England bureau of The New York Times.
September 11, 2022Updated: September 13, 2022

The smallest U.S. state could create the biggest upset to Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections.

Allan Fung, a self-professed middle-of-the-road Republican, is showing a comfortable lead in polls over six Democrats in his bid for Rhode Island’s open 2nd Congressional District seat.

While he’s hardly the only moderate Republican showing promise toward flipping a seat to red from blue in the midterm elections, his popularity in progressive New England is unprecedented and seen as a potential omen of what’s to come nationally.

“The possibility of a Republican in Rhode Island winning a congressional seat could have national implications in similar districts,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

Fung, the lone Republican candidate, currently holds a 6- to 10-point favorability advantage over Democrats in the general election, according to the polling center’s statewide survey. He has the advantage of not running against Jim Langevin, who decided against seeking a 12th term in the deep blue state.

That leaves six new faces for Democratic voters to choose from in Rhode Island’s primaries on Sept. 13, including state General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who appears to be the favorite.

Despite his popularity, Fung’s chance of winning in November seems like a long shot, given how long it’s been since voters in “Little Rhody,” as it is nicknamed, have sent a Republican to Washington.

The last one was Lincoln Chaffee, who served in the U.S. Senate until 2007; he then changed his affiliation to the Democratic Party and was elected governor.

Democrats have dominated New England’s collective political makeup in U.S. Congress for quite a while.

The only exception is Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who has been anything but warmly embraced by the Republican Party faithful. She was one of seven Republicans who voted to convict former President Donald Trump of citing an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

Fung’s campaigning has been mostly devoid of Trump themes. The popular former mayor of Cranston, who made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2014, has kept his focus on criticizing President Joe Biden for what Fung has called the worst economy ever in modern politics.

In running his first TV ad in his campaign just two weeks before the primaries, Fung appears at the gas pump questioning high fuel prices, high-fiving a police officer, greeting regular citizens in the streets, and promoting his “middle-of-the-road” ideologies.

While he is running as a pro-choice candidate, Fung in the past stood staunchly in favor of curbing abortion rights laws.

But like Trump’s “Make America Great Slogan” slogan, Fung’s catchy campaign catchphrase, “It’s Time For America’s Comeback,” seems to resonate with Republicans.

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently showed up in Rhode Island to stump for Fung.

In echoing Fung’s call to put America before party politics, McCarthy, in an Aug. 6 interview with Rhode Island’s Channel 10, said that his support for Fung isn’t about him being Republican but about “America getting back on the right track.”

McCarthy cited Fung’s strong stand against defunding the police, illegal immigration, and Biden’s inflationary policies as reasons for making the trip to the New England state to campaign for him.

“Of all the places across the country I could come to, this was one of the first places I made sure I can,” he said. “When you meet Allan, you know he’s special.”