Poll: David Cicilline Has Tough Primary in Rhode Island

Rep. David Cicilline has a difficult re-election race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. David Cicilline, one of the most endangered House Democrats this cycle, might not even make it out of the September primary, according to a poll conducted for Rhode Island television affiliate WPRI.

The Congressman got 40 percent versus 36 percent for his primary challenger, businessman Anthony Gemma. Twenty percent of those surveyed were undecided.

Cicilline, a freshman and former mayor of Providence, fell under scrutiny almost as soon as he arrived in Congress last year. Not long into his first term, it was revealed that the city faced daunting fiscal issues. He apologized in April for describing the financial situation as "excellent" when he was running for the House.

As for his job approval ratings, 29 percent of poll respondents said he was doing a "good" job. That number nearly matched by the 28 percent who described his job performance as "poor." The largest number of respondents described him as doing a "fair" job.

Gemma has the capacity to self-fund, and this is a primary rematch from the 2010 open-seat race in the 1st district. Thirty-eight percent of respondents had a favorable view of Gemma. But he was unknown to 45 percent of respondents.

The primary is Sept. 11. The winner of that race will face former Rhode Island Police Superintendent Brendan Doherty.

Under normal circumstances, the 1st district is solidly Democratic. But based on Cicilline's troubles, Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup. If he were to lose the primary, Democrats would likely be favored to hold the seat.