Rhode Island State Sen. Gayle Goldin (D-Providence) is resigning her seat for a job in the U.S. Labor Department, Goldin confirmed Tuesday.

"I’m honored to be joining the Biden-Harris administration today as Senior Advisor, US Department of Labor Women’s Bureau," Goldin wrote in an email. "Millions of women saw their lives completely disrupted by COVID. But even before COVID, inequities in our public policies meant many women struggle to make ends meet. We have a once in a generation chance to make the economy work for everyone by investing in policies that recognize the value of caregiving and eliminate discriminatory practices. Over the course of my political and professional careers, I’ve focused on changing public policies to address inequity. I’m honored to bring that experience to the US Department of Labor during this critical time for our nation."

Goldin's intention to resign was first reported Monday evening by The Public's Radio.

The departure of Goldin, who spoke of challenging Senate President Dominick Ruggerio for the top post in the chamber in January but whose name was ultimately not placed in nomination, will set up a proxy battle between Ruggerio and the progressives who made considerable Senate gains in 2020.

One of Goldin's former colleagues at Family Values @ Work, Wendy Chun-Hoon, was named in February to head the U.S. Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau, fanning early speculation that Goldin may join the same department.

"While the press covers me as a state senator, that’s only part of my career," Goldin said in her email. "Until this month, I served as Campaign Advisor to Family Values @ Work, where I helped state coalitions around the country pass paid leave laws while also advocating for a national paid family and medical leave. Previously, I was the Strategic Initiatives Officer at Women's Fund of Rhode Island, where I developed a gender equity policy platform, ran the Women’s Policy Institute, and oversaw grant making. I have also been a consultant in the nonprofit sector, assisting with strategic advocacy efforts, policy analysis, and qualitative research. After receiving a master’s degree in public policy from Tufts University, I moved to Rhode Island to work at a national organization focused on increasing access to health care for the uninsured."

Goldin, who was first elected from an East Side district in 2012, did not respond to messages seeking comment Monday evening.

Goldin has created a progressive profile as the Senate sponsor of a state-base abortion law and a supporter of such issues as paid family leave.

“Senator Gayle Goldin leaves an indelible mark on our state, and I thank her for her service," Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said in a statement. "She made Rhode Island a national leader on Paid Family Leave, also known as Temporary Caregiver Insurance. When it was enacted here, Rhode Island was just the third state in the nation to offer workers this important benefit. For many years, Senator Goldin championed the strong pay equity law that was enacted this year. She fought tirelessly on adoption issues and for working families. The Biden administration is gaining a dedicated and passionate public servant. I wish her and her family the very best.”

She had been considered a prospective candidate next year for secretary of state, but such talk faded after Rep. Gregg Amore (D-East Providence) made clear his interest in the role.

The candidates for the district now represented by Goldin include Hilary Levey Friedman, who has resigned as president of the RI chapter of NOW, and possibly former Sen. Rhoda Perry, a Rugerio ally.

“I began exploring a run for office because I believe in being prepared," Levey Friedman said in a statement Tuesday. "After spending time knocking on doors and listening to voters in my community, I am ready to run. I have heard so much about the division that exists in our politics today. It is important to have a leader who can help build the bridges we need to address the policy issues facing our state. I am ready to do that work.”

Levey Friedman's campaign will be led by Erich Haslehurst, one of the state's top campaign strategists.

By Tuesday afternoon, Geena Pham, a teacher born to a single mother who emigrated from Vietnam, and who has the support of the progressive Rhode Island Political Cooperative, announced her campaign.

“At the start of each day, I say the pledge of allegiance with my students," Pham said in a statement. "We promise them ‘liberty and justice for all’ but we fail to deliver. I am running because I see my students graduating into a world where everyday people struggle to afford housing, breathe clean air, drink clean water, and find their children quality education. I also see my Black and brown students disproportionately face these challenges. We must build a state where ‘liberty and justice’ extends to all Rhode Islanders.”

According to the Cooperative, Pham is the first member of her family to go to college and she teaches high school English at a public school in Massachusetts. The group said she volunteers as a board member of a group called Cozy Rhody Litter Clean-up.

Sen. Sam Bell, who helped spearhead the progressive drive in the Rhode Island Senate, said he plans to make an endorsement after more candidates emerge for the seat vacated by Goldin. "I plan to consult closely with Sen. Mack on this endorsement decision," he said, referring to Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Providence).

This story has been updated.

Correction: the status of Goldin's challenge to Ruggerio was mistakenly reported in an earlier version of this story.

Ian Donnis can be reached at idonnis@ripr.org. Follow him on Twitter @IanDon. Sign up here for his weekly RI politics and media newsletter.