Rep. Craven seeks to retain seat against challenger Zaccaria

Watch: Newsmakers debate between Rep. Robert Craven, Mark Zaccaria »

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Incumbent Democrat Robert Craven is seeking to win another term in the General Assembly against Republican challenger Mark Zaccaria, but he’s also setting his sights on a higher office down the road.

The two candidates joined Newsmakers this week to engage in debate ahead of the November election.

Rep. Craven was first elected to the legislature in 2012 while Zaccaria has run for Congress and U.S. Senate and was previously the state’s GOP chairman.

Craven, an attorney and former prosecutor, said he’s considering a run for attorney general in 2018, but he wants to make sure his wife is on board before committing.

“I am very interested in the opportunity to run for AG,” he said on Friday. “When I make that decision, I will make an announcement to my constituents, but right now I have no definite run. It is my intention to explore it seriously.”

Zaccaria said if he’s elected as state representative, he wants to be part of a group that’s a voice of opposition to the Democratically-controlled legislature.

“Republicans, some independents and a number of like-minded Democrats that would get up to 26 votes,” said Zaccaria. “When you can count to 26, then you’ve got a third of the chamber, then you can force deliberations on the floor in advance of a vote.”

One interesting wrinkle in the race: the Republican favors legalizing marijuana while the Democrat does not.

Watch: Newsmakers debate between Rep. Robert Craven, Mark Zaccaria »
Watch: Newsmakers debate between Rep. Robert Craven, Mark Zaccaria »

Craven and Zaccaria both said they oppose issuing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and both candidates support giving the governor the power of the line-item veto.

As for the presidential election, only one of them was sure how he’ll be voting.

“I am not entirely sure I think I am going to vote for Mr. Trump,” said Zaccaria. “I think Mrs. Clinton is well known and will be a continuation of policies and process at the federal level that have hurt us over last few years.”

“I think Mr. Trump is a few cents short of a buck when it comes to his mental approach to any number of issues,” said Craven, who intends to vote for Clinton. “It makes me scared to see him as president.”

Our Newsmakers debate series continues next week with incumbent Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and his Democratic challenger Michael Sepe.