Cumberland’s McKee rules out primary challenge to Cicilline

Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee says he won’t challenge Congressman David Cicilline in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District primary, putting to rest speculation he could try to wrest the nomination from the unpopular incumbent.

“Although it is nice to be mentioned as a possible candidate for U.S. Congress, I plan to remain in Rhode Island and work on local and state issues,” McKee told in an email Friday. “As I did in 2010, I will be asking Cumberland voters for their support for mayor in 2012.”

McKee, who considered running for Congress when Patrick Kennedy retired, was among the only mainstream Rhode Island Democrats still being discussed as a potential primary challenger to Cicilline. Cumberland is also the hometown of Republican candidate Brendan Doherty.

Without McKee in the race it appears the incumbent’s only primary opponent may be businessman Anthony Gemma, who must make a decision within two weeks under the terms of a merger agreement his company signed Thursday.

McKee won a fifth term as mayor in 2010, defeating independent David Iwuc 64% to 36%. He is widely viewed as a potential candidate for statewide office in 2014, possibly as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor or secretary of state.

McKee said he will continue to focus on education policy. “I am interested in being part of Rhode Island’s transformation,” he said. “As mayor I can continue to work on improving our public schools through the Mayoral Academies and work with municipal leaders to transform the way our town governments operate.”

• Related: Cook Political Report: Cicilline-Doherty race is now a ‘toss up’ (March 1)

(photo: Cicilline’s office)

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