Rhode Island will have at least one new congressperson next year following Warwick native and Bishop Hendricken graduate Congressman Jim Langevin's decision he wouldn’t be seeking re-election. Langevin, 57, is serving his eleventh term.
“I have not come to this decision lightly, but it is time for me to chart a new course, which will allow me to stay closer to home and spend more time with my family and friends,” said Langevin in a Providence Journal op-ed published online Tuesday.
Langevin has been in public office for 37 years, he noted in the op-ed. Langevin was first elected to the 2nd Congressional District for Rhode Island in 2000.
“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to represent Rhode Islanders as a delegate and secretary to the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention, as State Representative, as Secretary of State, and now, as a United State Congressman,” said Langevin.
But as Langevin noted his dreams of public service weren’t originally as an elected official but rather as in law enforcement. That was until a revolved was accidentally fired in the police station where Langevin was a Police Explorer.
“Nearly 40 years ago, a tragic accident left me paralyzed. My dreams of becoming a police officer were crushed, and I was forced to dream new dreams, and relearn how to perform almost every daily task,” said Langevin. “ Yet during my hour of need, Rhode Islanders rallied behind me, and I was inspired to give back to the community that gave me so much by pursuing a career in public service. Encouraged by my family’s unending love and my faith, that 16-year-old from Warwick became the first quadriplegic ever elected to Congress.”
Following the announcement made by a number of elected officials made statements.
One of those includes House Speaker K. Joseph Sherkarchi, who met Langevin almost 40 years ago while working for former Warwick Mayor Frank Flaherty’s campaign.
“I’ve been proud to be Jim’s friend throughout his decades of public service,during which he has been a relentless champion for Rhode Islanders,” said Shekarchi in a statement. “After becoming the nation’s youngest Secretary of State, he has been a proven fighter in Congress for more than two decades. Jim has been a trailblazer for Americans with disabilities, serving as a national leader on issues of disability rights and inclusion. Jim is a highly respected voice on issues of national security, particularly cybersecurity.”
For about half the time Langevin was in office, so was Congressman David Cicilline who said in a statement Tuesday "The story of Jim Langevin will forever be remembered as one of perseverance and a dedication to public service. It is one that will inspire our colleagues in government today and the future leaders of our state and nation for generations to come.”
The thanks for Langevin’s time in office didn’t just come from Democrats on Tuesday.
“Today is the day to thank Congressman Jim Langevin for his endless work on behalf of individuals with disabilities,” State Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung tweeted on the behalf of her husband, former Mayor Allan Fung and herself. “Countless adults, like our sister Arlene, have so many more doors open to them thanks to his efforts. We thank him for his decades of service to Rhode Island, and wish him nothing but the best of health and happiness as he looks to what lies ahead.”
While Lanegivin has voted on numerous bills throughout his time in Congress, he said that there was one that stood out to him most.
“Looking back, I’ll always be most proud of my vote for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which lowered health care costs for everyone and secured coverage for millions of uninsured Americans,” said Langevin. “ It is the most significant piece of legislation I ever supported.”
And Langevin pointed out that there is a moment during his time in Congress that he will always remember.
“I’ll always cherish the moment that I became the first Congressman in a wheelchair to preside over the House of Representatives as Speaker Pro Tempore, as we marked the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Langevin in an op-ed.
With the first open congressional seat in the Ocean State since 2010, speculation began immediately as to who may run.
Last year Dylan Conley, a Johnston attorney and the Providence Liquor Board Chair ran against Langevin in the Democratic Primary. Conley also serves as Johnston's Assistant Town Solicitor.
On Tuesday afternoon Conley said, “I will speak with family and trusted friends to discuss the possibility, but I was not planning on running prior to this announcement.”
State Sen. Sam Bell, when asked if he has any intentions of running said “definitely considering it.”
Sen. Josh Miller from Cranston has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the seat.
“I have gotten several calls. I will continue to listen to those giving me a wide range of feedback on the potential of running statewide versus how impactful I feel I can be in the RI senate,” said Miller.
Numerous other names have been thrown out as possible candidates as well.
On Tuesday, Shekarchi said in a statement it wasn’t the day to talk about who may be running.
“Today is a day to recognize his personal achievements and accomplishments, not for future political speculation. I wish Jim all the best in his future endeavors,” said Shekarchi.
On the Republican side of the aisle former state rep Bob Lancia announced his campaign last February. Lancia ran against Langevin in 2020 receiving 41.5 percent of the vote.
In his Op-Ed, Langevin thanked many people including the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation, friends, supporters, staff, and his family, as well as the 80,000 plus Rhode Islanders.
“But most of all, I want to thank the people of Rhode Island, for putting their faith and trust in me to be your voice all these years. I will cherish the time I was blessed to serve you.” said Langevin.
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