10 Factors that Will Decide if Elorza or Cianci is the Next Mayor of Providence

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

 

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Providence faces a historic election – regardless of the outcome the results will make national news.

With less then two weeks until D-Day, GoLocal has broken down the 10 challenges that Jorge Elorza and Buddy Cianci have to achieve to be victorious on Election Day.

For Elorza, who trails in the publicly released polls, he must be more than not-Buddy Cianci. For Cianci he must prove to a majority of voters that either he is reformed or that his leadership out weighs his ethical failures.

GoLocal has broken down the 10 critical strategic elements that will impact the race for Mayor of Providence. See the Slides below.

This race features every possible contrast:

- Cianci is 73-years-old and Elorza is 37-years-old

- Elorza has never run for elected office and Cianci was Mayor of Providence (1974) before Elorza was born.

- Cianci has been convicted of felonies and was a former prosecutor and Elorza is a housing court judge.

- Cianci can take claim for the success of mega-projects ranging from development of Providence Place Mall to Waterplace Park to Historic Preservation across the city and Elorza has a thin resume on accomplishments in the public sector.

- Elorza is not married and has no children and Cianci is divorced and has grandchildren.

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The personal difference may be more closely aligned than their respective approach to politics and governance.

Please note: GoLocal is not including Dr. Daniel Harrop in this analysis as he recently made a donation to Elorza and, thus, surrendered any viability as a candidate.

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Factors - Cianci or Elorza

It is down to the final days of the race for Mayor of Providence - read the analysis of who may have the advantage to win the race.

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Latino Vote

Elorza Must Win the Latino Vote

In the Democratic primary, Council President Michael Solomon beat Elorza in most of the Latino wards of Providence. In a strange but true scenario, the first-generation Guatemalan candidate lost out to the old-school candidate of Arab decent.

Yes, Providence for all of its claimed Progressive ways is still a City of ethnic politics. Elorza must win the Latino vote.

One Southside Providence City Council member says Elorza may not win the Hispanic vote and that Cianci may have the edge.

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East Side Margin

East Side Margin – Can Buddy Lose 60-40 and Win?

In 2010, Angel Taveras crushed his two opponents – John Lombardi and Steven Costantino -- on the East Side.  As GoLocal’s former reporter Dan McGowan posted on WPRI.com, "In the three-way Democratic primary in 2010, Angel Taveras won 73% of the vote on the East Side."

Now, if Cianci were to be able to lose Wards 1, 2 and 3 by just a 60% to 40% margin it would be difficult for Elorza to win.

Two factors: Cianci historically has done better on the East Side over the decades that folks remember and he is perceived to be someone who can get things done. 

The second factor is that Cianci has the support of Ward 3 Councilman Kevin Jackson. He has a track record of electoral success and being able to deliver Mount Hope votes. Then-Speaker Gordon Fox's survived in 2012 due to Jackson’s help.

The danger for Elorza is the opinion voiced in a recent New Yorker piece about Cianci. “It’s harder to hate someone when they’re sitting right in front of you,” Tom (Runco) said. He had been in the anyone-but-Buddy camp, but he was reconsidering. “Our friends warned us not to get taken in: ‘He puts on a good show, but don’t believe a word he says.’ Well, unless you hook him up to a polygraph, I guess it’s impossible to know.

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Anti-Buddy

Is Elorza More than Anti-Buddy?

The biggest problem for Jorge Elorza is that many of his advisors are so passionate about defining Cianci as the anti-Christ that Elorza has been unable or not allowed to define his vision for Providence.

Sometimes Elorza sounds like Angel Taveras 2.0 with a Head Start to Harvard message (same prss secretary) and other times he sounds like the “man with the plan” – a Brett Smiley lite messaging.

With just two weeks to go can Elorza not only needs to define a vision for Providence, but he also needs to create some excitement about his vision.

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Pot Hole

Pothole Election

The biggest danger for Elorza is that this race comes down to a potholes race, i.e., who is better at fixing potholes.

One of the reasons Providence Mayor Angel Taveras could not even carry his own city of Providence was that in the proceeding 12-months, Providence residents spent their days weaving in and out of giant pot holes.

If Providence voters decide they are willing to swallow a little national embarrassment by electing Cianci to avoid annual $1,000 repair bills on their front ends, then Elorza is in trouble.

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GOTV

Machine

Elorza’s get out the vote on primary day performed well. Now, it is Varsity time.

Without a doubt Elorza will benefit from a coordinated campaign that is organized to drive votes for the Democratic ticket from Gina Raimondo down the ballot to Nellie Gorbea.

In contrast, Cianci will be implementing his long-standing old school machine GOTV effort.

In past history, not Dorley, not Darrigan, not Lippitt, not Annaldo, and not Jabour could compete with Cianci’s organization, but remember it has been 15 years since the Cianci machine was driven.

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Unions

Unions

Clearly the public unions don’t have the impact that they did back in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Many of the employees have moved out of the City so their voting impact is minimized.

However, Cianci swept the endorsements and those organizations – Police, Teachers, Fire and Public Employee unions. There impact will matter in direct mail, phone banks and Election Day GOTV.

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Hipsters

Hipsters

One block of voters outside of the East Side firmly in Elorza’s column are the young, hipsters living in downtown, on Broadway and throughout the West End. This group wants a young, ethical leader that will help reverse many of the negative trends Providence is facing relating to unemployment and economic opportunity.

A recent New York Times story, entitled, “Where Young College Graduates Are Choosing to Live,” featured the cities that are now the destination for the young and educated – cool cities like Denver, and Portland, OR. Guess which city ranked among the worst – you guessed it, Providence.

These voters want to see Providence be on this list of the best cities for young people.

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God

God

An overwhelming number of Latino voters active Catholics. Religion has a significant role in their family, their community and this year – maybe in politics.

A 2010, Law Journal article written by Elorza has opened the door about Elorza’s belief in God. The writing was first unveiled by progressive blogger Steve Ahlquist in RI Future, “Now this all sounds very much like the kind of paper an atheist might write.”

On Tuesday, Bishop of the Diocese of Providence, Thomas Tobin raised serious concerns about Elorza’s belief in God. He wrote, “Now I should emphasize that being an atheist would neither recommend nor disqualify him from being Mayor of Providence. But I wonder if an atheist mayor would be in a position to respect the sincere convictions of believers (of all faiths) and to encourage and support the many contributions the faith community makes in our city and state. 

So, can anyone help determine: Is Jorge Elorza an atheist or not? It would be good to know before Election Day.”

For a candidate looking to build Latino momentum having a Catholic Bishop raise questions about your commitment to the Church is not helpful.

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City Finances

Managing City Finances – Unholy Alliance

The benefit for Cianci of getting the support of the public unions has already been highlighted, but the weakness is that the rest of City taxpayers may be concerned that Cianci and the unions have made unsavory deals which will further adversely impact the city of Providence’s fragile finances.

Elorza can score points beyond the East Side that Cianci’s wheeling and dealing with the public unions may ensure more financial chaos and tax increases.

Those endorsements did not come for free.

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Energy

Energy

The biggest issue for Elorza to exploit is to project an image one of energy, youth and new big ideas. The reality has been that up until today, Cianci has held serve on energy and vision.  With all the national attention – NYT, Politico, New Yorker, Meet the Press, etc – it seems as if Cianci is everywhere.

Elorza needs to project a high-energy leader who has big ideas and can implement big ideas. Voters know that Cianci has a track record of accomplishments – even for a guy 73-years-old.

Who will standout in the final days?

 
 

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