Russell Moore: Anybody But Cianci?

Monday, July 21, 2014


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I noticed that faux mayoral candidate Lorne Adrain got some good press last week when he dropped out of the race for Mayor of Providence and attributed it to the notion that it was part of some noble plan to prevent Vincent "Buddy" Cianci from taking over in his third stint as mayor. 

It was, of course, undeserved. There are few things more disgusting than when someone who wishes they could be a politician takes the coward's way out of a fight and pretends it was due to some high-minded principle as opposed to saving face. That's what Adrain did.

Adrain's Opportunism

Adrain, in an attempt to make himself look magnanimous and full of gravitas, said that his decision was made as an attempt to help prevent former iconic Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, who is yet again a candidate, from winning election to what would be his third stint as mayor.

"Now that the field of candidates has been settled, it is clear to me that it presents a substantial risk to the progress we all so desperately need and want. With this in mind, I am withdrawing from the race," said Adrain according to a report.

While gathering my metaphorical wading boots after reading that statement, I wondered if Adrain would've withdrawn from the race if his internal polling (assuming he did any) told him he had a good chance of winning the election. Of course he wouldn't.

A commenter said it best. "(Adrain) would've gotten less votes than he has hair on his head" (Lorne is bald.) It's not very often that an internet commenter can literally get me to laugh out loud, but that was the case. And the statement was as funny as it was true-- in other words, very.

Retreat, cloaked in magnanimity

Besides potentially spoiling the Democratic Primary for Democrat candidate Brett Smiley, (both are East Siders) Adrain was never going to have a serious impact on the race. Let's remember, Adrain was, of course, competing in the Democratic Primary before he wasn't. Than he was running as an Independent candidate before he wasn't.

All this was from a guy who touted himself as some master businessman. Is it a virtue in business to constantly whipsaw and flip flop around and about big decisions? But I digress.

Not easy as ABC

Shortly thereafter, reported that an "Anybody But Cianci" coalition formation may be in the works. There has also been talk about Republican Daniel Harrop exiting the race and endorsing whomever wins the Democratic Primary for Governor.

At first blush, one might think this development, and potential development, represents a big problem for Cianci. Cianci needs, at the very least, a competitive three-way race to carve up the vote in order to win back the mayorship, the popular notion goes. Naturally, that's wrong.

There's nothing written in stone that says Cianci can't win a majority of the votes. There's plenty of nostalgia for the booming nineties going around. I hear it almost daily. That, coupled with the near 100-percent name recognition, suggests that Cianci will be formidable regardless of what happens.

Those factors combined with the victim card he would gain from everybody ganging up on him would almost assuredly work to his advantage.

Look at it this way: if everyone is running around talking about how the city needs to unite against Cianci-- they're really talking about...Cianci.

Cianci will appear bullied

In the meantime, Cianci will be campaigning about the past being a bridge to the future. Cianci will remind voters of his accomplishments-- the Providence Place Mall, Providence Performing Arts Center, the ice skating rink, etc.-- and how he'll use similar strategies for future developments in the city.

One candidate trumpeting ideas while the rest throw mud is not a recipe for victory for the guys with mud.

If Cianci is going to be beat, it's not going to be via everyone ganging up on him. It's going to be due to others having better ideas, plans, and vision. To beat Cianci, the opposing candidate(s) must convince voters that they're the sort who will redevelop the city, put a downward pressure on property taxes, and curb the city's nasty unfunded liabilities.

Just not being Buddy isn't enough. Sorry haters, but an Anybody But Cianci campaign won't get you anything but Buddy Cianci.

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A native Rhode Islander, Russell J. Moore is a graduate of Providence College and St. Raphael Academy. He worked as a news reporter for 7 years (2004-2010), 5 of which with The Warwick Beacon, focusing on government. He continues to keep a close eye on the inner workings of Rhode Islands state and local governments.


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