Jonathan Aaron Regunberg[1] (born January 26, 1990) is an American progressive activist and politician who served as the member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives for the 4th district from 2015 to 2019. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Rhode Island in 2018. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2023 special election for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district.

Aaron Regunberg
Member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives
from the 4th district
In office
January 6, 2015 – January 1, 2019
Preceded byGordon Fox
Succeeded byRebecca Kislak
Personal details
Born (1990-01-26) January 26, 1990 (age 34)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
RelativesBrad Schneider (uncle)
EducationBrown University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)

Early life and education edit

Regunberg is a native of Chicago. His father, Jonathan Regunberg, died in a plane crash before Aaron was born.[2] Regunberg's grandfather was born in Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1948 after surviving the Holocaust.[3][4] Regunberg's uncle is U.S. Representative Brad Schneider from Illinois's 10th congressional district[5] Aaron and his sister were raised by their mother, Erica Regunberg, in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago.[6]

Regunberg graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.[7] While at Brown, Regunberg co-founded the Providence Student Union, a youth-led public school student advocacy organization that has organized around issues including ethnic studies curricula,[8] infrastructure repairs,[9] free student bus passes,[10] and an end to school closings and high-stakes testing.[11]

Regunberg attended Harvard Law School, receiving a J.D. in 2022.[1]

Career edit

Rhode Island House of Representatives edit

In 2014, Regunberg was elected to serve Rhode Island House District 4 on the East Side of Providence.

Elections edit

In the race for Rhode Island House District 4, Regunberg won 51.5% of the vote in the Democratic primary against challengers Heather Tow-Yick and Miriam Ross, who won 33.9% and 14.6%, respectively. He received the endorsement of the Progressive Democrats of Rhode Island, Clean Water Action, Planned Parenthood, and progressive labor organizations. He went on to defeat independent candidate Ethan Gyles in the general election, 83% to 17%.[12] Regunberg ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and in the general election for Rhode Island House District 4.

Tenure edit

During his first term as state Representative, Regunberg introduced and passed legislation raising Rhode Island's tipped minimum wage for the first time in 20 years, established online voter registration, and created new renewable energy programs.[13] He also introduced and passed legislation to guarantee earned paid sick days for over 100,000 Rhode Islanders,[14] and pushed for a state-level carbon pricing system,[15] single-payer healthcare system,[16] and a more progressive tax system, among other proposals.[17] He also chaired a special legislative study commission to reform the use of solitary confinement in Rhode Island.[18]

Regunberg served as a member of the Rules Committee for the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, where he was a leader in the campaign to reform the Democratic Party's use of superdelegates in future presidential nominating contests.[19]

After Donald Trump's election in 2016, Aaron Regunberg worked locally to resist the Trump administration's agenda. He co-founded Resist Hate RI, a coalition of activists and organizations that mobilized hundreds of Rhode Island residents to take state and federal action in opposition to the Trump administration.[20] He introduced legislation that would divest Rhode Island from any companies that contracted to help build Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico.[21]

Regunberg received a 74% score from Common Cause Rhode Island in their 2015-2016 legislative scorecard,[22] and an A rating from the Environmental Council of Rhode Island.[23]

Committee assignments edit


For the 2015 legislative session, Regunberg served on the following Rhode Island House of Representatives committees:[12]

  • Environment and Natural Resources
  • Health, Education and Welfare

During the 2017 legislative session, Regunberg served on the following Rhode Island House of Representatives committees:[13]

  • Environment and Natural Resources
  • Labor

2018 campaign for lieutenant governor edit

In late October 2017, Regunberg announced that he would run to become the lieutenant governor of Rhode Island in the 2018 election.[24] He ran against incumbent lieutenant governor Dan Mckee in the Democratic primary. In his announcement speech, Regunberg said that if elected, he would be a voice "for all of the Rhode Islanders who can’t afford that State House lobbyist," and campaigned on a progressive platform, including as one of the earliest supporters of a Green New Deal. His bid received national attention when CNN named it one of the "9 Democratic primaries to watch in 2018."[25]

Regunberg's campaign was endorsed by many progressive organizations and politicians throughout Rhode Island.

In March 2018, Regunberg received the endorsement of Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.[26]

Regunberg was defeated in the Democratic primary election by incumbent Dan McKee, receiving 49% of the vote to McKee's 51%.[27]

After the election, Regunberg served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. In the summer of 2019, he was arrested as a part of a Never Again Action protest against President Donald Trump's immigration reforms.[28]

2023 congressional campaign edit

Regunberg was a candidate in the 2023 special election for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district.[29] Leaving his job as a legal clerk in U.S. District Court in Providence to run for the open seat, he was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders,[30] Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,[31] the Working Families Party,[32] Congressman Jamie Raskin,[33] and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[33] He was also endorsed by several local officials, including former state senator J. Clement “Bud” Cicilline, the uncle of former Rep. David Cicilline. Following his endorsement of Regunberg, former Sen. Cicilline stated that Regunberg reminded him of his nephew.[34]

Despite several election prognosticators viewing Regunberg as a favorite, he was defeated by Gabe Amo in the September 5 primary.

References edit

  1. ^ a b Gregg, Katherine. "Former state Rep. Regunberg hired as adviser to Providence Mayor Elorza". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  2. ^ "Regunberg Brothers; Died in Light-Plane Crash". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 11, 2023.
  3. ^ Milkovits, Amanda. "Campaign 2018: McKee, Regunberg contrast sharply in battle for R.I. Lt. Gov. | Audio". The Newport Daily News. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  4. ^ "Aaron Regunberg: Never Again is about throwing ourselves into the gears of that mechanism in any way we possibly can - Uprise RI". Retrieved April 11, 2023.
  5. ^ Deutch, Gabby (July 26, 2023). "Progressive activist emerges as frontrunner in open Rhode Island House race". Retrieved August 31, 2023.
  6. ^ Pina, Alisha A. "His agenda: a fair shot for all". The Providence Journal. Retrieved April 11, 2023.
  7. ^ "Brown University: The Two Hundred and Forty-Fourth Commencement" (PDF). Brown University. May 27, 2012.
  8. ^ Borg, Linda (January 20, 2016). "'Our history matters': Providence students rally for ethnic studies curriculum". Providence Journal. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  9. ^ Ahlquist, Steve. "Providence Student Union calls on legislature to fix broken schools". RI Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  10. ^ Apps, Aaron (June 2, 2015). "Providence school busing routes require rethinking". Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  11. ^ "Providence Student Union". Providence Student Union. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "J. Aaron Regunberg". Ballotpedia.
  13. ^ a b "Representative J. Aaron Regunberg". Rhode Island General Assembly.
  14. ^ "Rhode Island Democrats push to guarantee paid sick days". Los Angeles Times. February 8, 2017. Archived from the original on February 20, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  15. ^ Fitzpatrick, Edward (January 25, 2016). "Regunberg's birthday wish — a 'carbon pricing' law". Providence Journal. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  16. ^ Ahlquist, Steve (January 24, 2018). "Regunberg and Calkin introduce Medicare-for-All legislation". Uprise RI. Retrieved August 28, 2023.
  17. ^ Regunberg, Aaron; Philippe Barros, Jean; Ranglin-Vassell, Marcia (February 14, 2017). "Aaron Regunberg, Jean Philippe Barros and Marcia Ranglin-Vassell: Workers struggle, wealthy thrive in R.I." Providence Journal. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  18. ^ Gourlay, Kristin (February 9, 2017). "The Pulse: Regunberg On Reforming Solitary Confinement In RI". Rhode Island Public Radio. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  19. ^ Fitzpatrick, Edward (July 25, 2016). "R.I legislator led charge against superdelegates". Providence Journal. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  20. ^ Ahlquist, Steve (November 13, 2016). "Resist Hate RI- Nearly 1000 people attend emergency meeting to resist Trump". RI Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  21. ^ "Representative Regunberg introduces bill to push back against Trump border wall". State of Rhode Island General Assembly. February 14, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  22. ^ "Common Cause Rhode Island Report" (PDF). Common Cause Rhode Island. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  23. ^ "Rhode Island General Assembly 2015-2016 Green Report Card" (PDF). Environment Council of Rhode Island.
  24. ^ Tempera, Jacqueline. "Rep. Regunberg announces run for lieutenant governor". The Providence Journal. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  25. ^ Krieg, Gregory. "9 Democratic primaries to watch in 2018". CNN. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  26. ^ "Elorza Flip-Flops, Backs Lt. Gov. Challenger Regunberg After Refusing to Support Ranglin-Vassell". GoLocalProv. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  27. ^ "Rhode Island Primary Election 2018". WPRI. WPRI. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  28. ^ Andrade, Kevin (July 2, 2019). "18 arrested in Never Again protest of Wyatt's ICE role". The Providence Journal. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  29. ^ "Progressive Democrat, former state Rep. Regunberg will run for Congress". The Providence Journal. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  30. ^ "Bernie Sanders backs Regunberg in RI race for Congress". July 27, 2023. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  31. ^ "AOC endorses Regunberg, front-runner in CD1 race, as a 'fierce champion for working people'". The Providence Journal. Retrieved August 31, 2023.
  32. ^ "RI Working Families Party endorses Regunberg for 1st Congressional District race". May 17, 2023. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  33. ^ a b "Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC endorses Regunberg for Cicilline seat". July 25, 2023. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  34. ^ Fitzpatrick, Edward. "The latest political news in Rhode Island". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 11, 2023.

External links edit