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Republican Fung leads Magaziner in R.I. congressional race: WPRI/RWU poll

The cell phone/landline poll was conducted Sept. 29 through Oct. 2.

Democratic state treasurer Seth Magaziner, left, and Republican former Cranston mayor Allan W. Fung, right, appeared on the Rhode Island Report podcast.Carlos Muñoz

PROVIDENCE — With less than five weeks until Election Day, former Cranston mayor Allan Fung, a Republican, is clinging to a six-point lead over Democratic state Treasurer Seth Magaziner in the race for the open congressional seat in Rhode Island’s 2nd District, according to a poll released Thursday by WPRI 12 and Roger Williams University.

The survey of 254 likely voters shows Fung at 46 percent, Magaziner at 40 percent, and Moderate William Gilbert at 4 percent, with 9 percent undecided. The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 6.2 percent points.

“It shows that this is still anyone’s race,” said Joe Fleming, who conducted the poll.

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The race is drawing national attention because the only Republican from New England currently in the US House or Senate is Maine Senator Susan Collins.

Fung, who lost races for governor in 2014 and 2018, is trying to become the first Republican to win a congressional race in Rhode Island since Lincoln Chafee secured a full six-year term in the Senate in 2000. Chafee lost the seat in 2006 to current Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat who successfully argued that a vote for Chafee was a vote for the national Republican agenda under then-president George Bush.

Magaziner, who has twice won statewide office as treasurer, is following a similar playbook this year, making the case that Fung could deliver the speakership to US Represeantive Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican who is loyal to former president Donald Trump.

While Fung has a small lead in the race, it is within the poll’s margin of error. Magaziner’s campaign has emphasized support for abortion rights, while suggesting that Republicans nationally are seeking a federal ban on abortions. Fung has said he supports a woman’s right to have an abortion, but he does not believe abortions should be covered by taxpayers. He also doesn’t support late-term abortions.

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The WPRI 12/Roger Williams University poll shows that 14 percent of voters polled consider abortion to be the single-most important issue in this year’s elections, while 42 percent of respondents said cost of living was the most-important issue facing Rhode Island voters.

Fung and Magaziner are vying to replace US Represeantive James Langevin, a Democrat who announced that he wouldn’t seek as 12th term in Congress earlier this year. Langevin endorsed Magaziner prior to Magaziner’s easy victory in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary.

The cell phone/landline poll was conducted Sept. 29 through Oct. 2. The general election is Nov. 8.



Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.