U.S. Rep. David Cicilline gives his victory speech in the ballroom of the Providence Biltmore Hotel after defeating first-time Republican candidate Brendan Doherty Tuesday night. (Photo/Ernest A. Brown)
PROVIDENCE (AP) â€” Democrat David Cicilline has won a second term in Rhode Island's 1st Congressional District after fighting off a challenge from Republican Brendan Doherty.
Doherty, a former head of state police, ran the strongest Republican campaign for Congress in years in Rhode Island. He harshly criticized Cicilline for his financial stewardship of Providence, which Cicilline led as mayor for eight years before being sent to Washington in 2010.
Cicilline criticized Republicans in Congress for efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to weaken Medicare. He argued that if elected, Doherty would vote for the Republican leadership in Washington, an argument that resonated with voters in the heavily Democratic 1st District.
The district covers much of the eastern and northern parts of the state.
Cicilline, who was mayor of Providence for eight years before being elected to Congress two years ago, has been harshly criticized for saying during his 2010 campaign that the city's finances were in excellent condition. That turned out not to be the case.
Doherty has run on the motto of "uncommon integrity" and painted Cicilline as a liar who can't be trusted.
Cicilline has argued to voters that casting a ballot for Doherty would advance the Republican agenda in Congress, a powerful argument in a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans more than three to one.
In the final days of the campaign, national Republicans and Democrats poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into TV attack ads, including one targeting Cicilline for his past as a criminal defense attorney and tying him to a child molester and murderer he defended two decades ago.
"It has been a really busy campaign, and I'm really proud of what we've done," Cicilline said before casting his ballot Tuesday in Providence. "I don't have any regrets. Now it's up to the voters."