Skip to comments.Navy SEAL Rogers(vs. Kennedy) will swim district
Posted on 11/18/2003 10:36:40 AM PST by nycfree
Rogers launches second campaign against Kennedy
The Republican plans to promote his bid for Congress by swimming from Pawtucket to Newport.
November 18, 2003
BY DANIEL BARBARISI Journal Staff Writer
BRISTOL -- The candidate was all wet.
Republican Dave Rogers, who made an unsuccessful bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy last year, announced yesterday that he'd try again next year -- and then immediately donned a wetsuit and swam Bristol Harbor to "prove to you just how serious I am," he said.
Roughly 50 supporters chanted "Go Dave go," and "Rogers '04," as the former Navy SEAL waded down the Bristol boat ramp and swam about 100 yards in the 50-degree water to another dock.
"I hope my journey will prove to you that my desire to serve the people of this great state cannot be quenched," he said. Rogers plans to swim the entire length of the 1st Congressional District -- from Pawtucket to Newport -- over the course of the campaign.
Rogers, 37, of Portsmouth, works for a Middletown company founded by his father that advises petroleum companies on environmental hazards. He won a competitive, three-way primary to face Kennedy in the 2002 general election, which Kennedy won with over 60 percent of the vote to Rogers's 37 percent.
This time, he's running on a pledge to cut taxes, defend Rhode Island's jobs -- especially defense jobs -- and protect pensions and health benefits for veterans and seniors.
Journal photo / Mary Murphy Republican Dave Rogers, who made an unsuccessful bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy last year, announced yesterday that he'd try again next year. Rogers was well-financed in his last campaign for Rhode Island's 1st District, spending roughly $1.3 million on his losing effort. He said he has raised over $700,000 for this campaign, but he has spent more than $550,000 already, according to his most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission.
That report shows his coffers at $154,577 as of Sept. 30. Rogers's campaign reports that he has raised an additional $30,000 to $40,000 since then. Much of his money comes from out-of-state donors, and Rogers spokesman Christian Winthrop said Rogers has donations from all 50 states.
Winthrop said the 2002 matchup was a practice run for Rogers and that this is his real shot, now that he has name recognition and is an established candidate.
OFFICE SOUGHT: U.S. Representative, 1st District
CURRENT POSITION: None
PREVIOUS OFFICE: None
PROFESSION: Manager at Warren Rogers Associates Inc. in Middletown, a company advising the petroleum industry on environmental hazards.
EDUCATION: Graduated Williston Northampton School in 1984, attended Tulane University, leaving to enlist in the Navy in 1986.
FAMILY: Married to Nancy, a nurse at Newport Naval Hospital. Two children, Patrick, 9, Scott 7.
"No one has ever run against Kennedy twice. This is actually his true shot, his clear shot and his best shot," Winthrop said.
The 2002 contest was a heated match that included personal attacks between the two candidates.
Kennedy said Rogers was politically more conservative than he let on and accused Rogers's campaign director of concocting a spate of vandalism against Rogers's staffers' cars as a publicity stunt.
Rogers hammered at Kennedy for several well-publicized incidents, one where the congressman pushed a security guard as he rushed to catch a plane at Los Angeles Airport, and another where the Coast Guard picked up Kennedy's girlfriend after she had called a friend from his chartered yacht, saying she was frightened and wanted help.
Yesterday, Rogers promised that his 2004 campaign would focus more on issues and less on personalities, although his announcement speech did include one jab at Kennedy's sailing abilities.
Kennedy has not announced whether he will seek a sixth term. As of Sept. 30, Kennedy had $852,325 in campaign cash on hand.
Kennedy spokesman Ernesto C. Anguilla said that with the election a year away, the congressman is too consumed by his job to think much about the election, or about his potential opponent.
"It's certainly a long way to go," Anguilla said. "If Mr. Rogers is the eventual challenger to the congressman, then so be it. But for now, Congressman Kennedy is very focused on the job of being a congressman."
Independent Frank Carter, 47, a freelance writer, has already announced his intention to challenge Kennedy in next year's election. Carter ran against Kennedy and Rogers in 2002, and came in third with 2.7 percent of the vote. He ran as a Republican in 2000, but dropped out of the race before Election Day.
Republican Margaret Crosby, 36, of Providence, a research fellow at King's College in London, has also filed papers with the FEC to challenge Kennedy. Republican Michael Battles, 33, who lost to Rogers in the 2002 primary but vowed to run again, is in Lebanon on business and said yesterday that due to personal and business commitments, he will not run against Kennedy next year.
The cross-state swim should begin in earnest in several weeks, Winthrop said. The campaign is unsure how long Rogers will swim at a time, but he plans to start at the mouth of the Seekonk River in Pawtucket, then continue down the Providence River, down the east side of the Bay, eventually hitting Jamestown, swimming the south end of Aquidneck Island to Little Compton, and up the Sakonnet River to Tiverton.
He will finish by swimming to his home in Portsmouth.