Rhue Reis, a 56-year-old small businessman from North Kingstown, says he's making a long shot challenge to seven-term Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin because Congress is failing to get the job done for ordinary Americans.
Joined by his wife and their two daughters, Reiss announced his campaign during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the American restaurant on Providence's West Side. The first-time candidate says he doesn't consider Congress an entry-level job, before adding:
"I also don't believe that the people that seem to have all the political experience in the world, all the knowledge of what's going on in this country, and what's wrong with this country, can not seem to straighten it out. So if they have all the answers and they have all the experience, why are we in such a mess? I think it's because they've lost touch with the regular people and they're not representing us any more. They're representing special interests, they're representing their party and first and foremost, they're representing themselves."
Reis is an opponent of Obamacare and says he wants a smaller federal government. Asked where he'd make cuts, he points to social programs, as well as the federal departments of Education, Energy, and Defense. On his Web site, Reis says, "The role of government must return to what I believe the Founders envisioned it to be. That is, one that is limited by the enumerated powers of the US Constitution, which leaves substantial governing responsibilities to the states."
A string of challengers, ranging from pro-choice Democratic women to conservative Republicans (including Reis' campaign manager, former state GOP chairman Mark Zaccaria), have tried dislodging Langevin since the Warwick native first won election in 2000.
Reis says he first started considering running against Langevin after Zaccaria approached him with the idea.
"I think he went through an exhaustive search to try to find somebody with a political background who would be willing to run, but he couldn't," Reis says. "Everyone that he approached -- and I think he told me it was somewhere between 15 and 20 local and state politicians that he had approached to take a run for this office."
Reis says he was born in Massachusetts and came to Rhode Island about 15 years after residing in Florida. He says he's a licensed contractor, with an MBA from George Washington University, and works in the poker department at Foxwoods (although he says he'll leave that job to focus on his campaign). Reis says he believes he would need $800,000 to run a competitive campaign against Langevin.