NEW: Cianci Announces Campaign Leadership Team for Providence Mayoral Run

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


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Vincent Cianci

Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, the former two-time Mayor of Providence and Mayoral candidate, officially unveiled his campaign leadership team Wednesday morning. 

Cianci's announcement comes on the heels of Tuesday's Democratic primary, which saw Jorge Elorza prevail over Michael Solomon by less than 1,500 votes.  Elorza and Republican Dan Harrop now face Cianci in the general election on November 4. 

"There's no Democratic way, no Republican way, there's the right way," Cianci told a packed crowd at his campaign headquarters Wednesday morning of supporter and press. 

Fielding questions from reporters, Cianci addressed a number of issue presented, including his base of supporters to win. 

"Everyone counts in the city," said Cianci, answering a question if he could get the support of the East Side as well as the South Side in November.

Cianci said this election cycle reminded of him when he ran in 1974, when "the city lost its way, like it has now," said Cianci.

Cianci also addressed the issue of pension COLA (cost of living adjustments).  "The 6 percent COLAs were done before I came on board as mayor. We took the control away from the retirement board," said Cianci. "Everything can be revisited."

Campaign Team

Cianci formerly announced his campaign co-chairs -- City Councilman Kevin Jackson and community activist Leah Williams Metts.

Also on the Cianci team announced Wednesday were former state representative and city councilman Charles Mansolillo as Campaign Chair and Treasurer; former Cianci staffer Cyd Mckenna as campaign manager, veteran fundraiser Deedee Witman as Finance Chair, former Cianci staffer Beryl Kenyon as press officer, and Erlin Rogel as campaign fellow.

Ciani said the campaign would be putting forth position papers in the coming weeks.  "It should be one a week," said Cianci. 


Related Slideshow: Questions Buddy Cianci Must Answer to be Providence’s Next Mayor

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Staff recruitment?

When GoLocal first started looking into the possibility of Buddy entering the race, we asked of his former staff, "Where are they now?"  

Buddy's been out of office for 12 years.  Anyone of voting age then is now over 30.  And anyone who was a Buddy disciple had to move on, forge a new career path, or retire.   Much like the voting block -- who is Buddy's new base of support from a staff perspective?  Can he snag young social media savvy professionals -- what do they know of Buddy's legacy?  Can he lure folks away from secure positions for a high degree of uncertainty? 

Buddy's got the headquarters, and is undoubtedly putting a team in place, but seems to be keeping a low-profile as the primary campaigns heat up.  Watch to see if he can pull any defectors from the losing Democratic campaigns who see Buddy as the more viable way into City Hall than their former opponent who just beat them.

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Age and Illness?

It's no secret that Cianci is 73, and has been battling cancer.  Listen to him on the radio, you might think you're hearing man twenty years younger.  See him in person, however, and you see a man who has been through...a lot.  Noticeably slimmer and more subdued, Cianci cuts a contrasting figure to his younger days.

Don't count out the razor-sharp Cianci to use this to his advantage -- that this is the kinder, gentler, grandfatherly Buddy who plans on swooping back in to show the younger generation how to be Mayor, with his experience. 

The question will be if he truly has the health and stamina for the grueling sprint to the finish between the primaries and Election Day in November -- and whether hi opponents will bring that up in private circles, or outright in public. 

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Laugh Test?

The felonies.  The toupee.  The fireplace log, lit cigarette, and ashtray.  They're all products of Buddy's past, and more often than not, a punchline of a joke. 

No doubt Buddy's got the ability to laugh at himself -- and quickly dismiss critics pointing to his criminal record -- but do Providence voters want the glad-handing Mayor with his larger-than-life baggage as Providence looks to emerge from the the recent recession and precarious financial standing?  

Voters have seen the self-depricating side of Brett Smiley in his man-with-a-plan ad, but don't expect Buddy to play up his follies to the same extent.  He'll cut to the chase and speak to his track record and what he did while in office -- and what he plans to do if elected again.  So who will be laughing come November?  Stay tuned.


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Providence as U.S. Joke?

As far as self-image goes, the Economist's recent Buddy piece, "Freshening the Armpit of New England," didn't do much for the national perception of Providence.  "Can America's Ex-Con Mayor Win Again?" quipped the Daily Beast.  And how can one forget the Business Insider dubbing Cianci the "Poster Boy of Political Scandals."

While Rhode Island as a whole tries to shake the constant bottom-of-the-U.S. rankings for business and the economy, Providence has worked hard to shed the underachieving image, and was most recently awarded citation from the National Conference of Mayors for being an exemplary mid-sized city.  Buddy is running on the platform that he turned Providence around before, and he can to it again.  The questions is, will voters give him the chance?


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Can he win?

Perhaps the biggest question now is whether Buddy can win.  When he entered the race as an Independent -- and former Democrat Lorne Adrain made the switch to join him in the unaffiliated ranks -- the prospect of a four-way finale seemed to be in Buddy's favor, having to capture a seemingly do-able share of the vote.

Now with Adrain out, and whispers that Republican Dan Harrop might not stay in the race until election day, the prospect of a three-way battle and possibly a two-one -- could be keeping the former Mayor up at night...or he could be too busy raising money to meet the winner of the Democratic primary an his general elections challengers starting September 10.  Either way, Buddy's chances of getting back in the race have slimmed, but he can never be counted out.


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