Former gubernatorial candidate Helena Buonanno Foulkes announced Monday that she isn’t running for the open seat in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, while state Sen. Sandra Cano became the second prominent Democrat to enter the race.

Foulkes said she was humbled by encouragement to pursue the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline.

“This wasn’t an easy decision,” she said in a statement. “I’m deeply passionate about serving the people of Rhode Island and incredibly honored that so many of you believe that I would represent you and your families well in Washington. But right now, I believe that I can have a bigger impact in the long run by working with members of our community on local issues here at home. From our housing crisis to our struggling public schools to the test of the new economy, the challenges facing our state are real and immediate. I want to help fix them here.”

Foulkes came close to edging Gov. Dan McKee in the Democratic primary for governor last September and she is considered a prospective candidate for the same office in 2026.

Foulkes and House Speaker Joe Shekarchi – who announced last week he would not run in CD1 – were considered potentially strong candidates because of their fundraising prowess and other factors, including name recognition and institutional support.

With both out of the race, more candidates may enter the scrap in CD1.

On Monday, ahead of Foulkes’ announcement, Sen. Cano, a Pawtucket Democrat, announced a run.

“Our community needs someone who knows what it is like to face the challenges that so many of our neighbors face on a daily basis – someone with the life experience and Democratic values to fight for working families across our state,” Cano said in a statement.

Cano is the second prominent Democrat, after Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, to announce a run for the seat being vacated by Cicilline. A former Republican, Allen Waters, is also running as a Democrat.

In her statement, Cano pointed out that she is the first announced candidate who actually lives in CD1.

A former Pawtucket City Councilor, Cano was first elected to the Rhode Island Senate in 2018.

“I have worked to ensure that our children get the quality education they deserve and teachers get recognized as the pillar to their success,” she said. “I have stood on the front lines with advocates and legislative champions to protect the right to abortion by passing the Reproductive Privacy Act. I have fought to protect the environment by co-sponsoring the Act on Climate and working to ensure its passage. And I helped lead the successful effort for earned sick leave and fair pay for women and families. Now, I am ready to bring this energy and focus to Washington and fight for our future!”

Cano is engaged to state General Treasurer James Diossa, and the couple has two young children. They live in Pawtucket.

Other potential candidates include Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Newport), Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien, renewable energy investor Don Carlson, White House staffer Gabe Amon, Providence City Councilor John Goncalves, and state Rep. Nathan Biah (D-Providence).

The primary election to fill the CD1 seat is likely to take place in August or September.

Ian Donnis can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IanDon and sign up for email delivery of his RI politics newsletter.