With Solomon Leading Democratic Primary, Smiley To Drop Out and Support Elorza

Thursday, August 21, 2014


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Smiley to Endorse Elorza

The race for Providence Mayor took yet another bizarre twist as the second and third place candidates - Jorge Elorza and Brett Smiley -- have cut a deal to try and beat the leader in the primary -  Michael Solomon.

With both Elorza and Smiley running low on cash, the two candidates have agreed to team up in an effort to try and beat Solomon.

Joint Effort Launched

On Thursday, Smiley and Elorza announced they would be holding a joint press conference Friday morning -- with no additional information provided. 

However, multiple sources confirmed Thursday evening at that Smiley and Elorza cut a deal to take on frontrunner Solomon -- who is currently the subject of an Ethics Commission investigation for failing to disclose financial interests in multiple years of ethics filings.  Long, a police officer and combat veteran who is running in Ward 1, filed a complaint on August 7 alleging that Solomon committed 25 separation ethics violations and "has displayed gross negligence in failing to to meet the reporting requirements of the [Ethics Commission]."

Solomon subsequently filed amendments to reports from 2005 to 2012, consisted of dozens of changes to the previously filed reports. 

Smiley and Elorza

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Brett Smiley

Smiley, who owns a campaign finance consulting business and has been a lobbyist for the City of Providence, had announced in June 2013 he was forming an exploratory committee for a run for Mayor of Providence, and formally declared his candidacy in December 2013. 

Elorza, a former Providence Housing Court judge and professor of law at Roger Williams University, declared his bid for Mayor of Providence in November 2013.

Smiley, who unveiled his national-attention garnering "man with the plan" TV ad touting his organizational skills, just announced on August 13 that he had brought on $55,042 during the previous fundraising period, "more than double both is opponents combined" -- Elorza raised $23,819 and Michael Solomon raised $2,710.

Solomon has the deepest war chest of the Democratic candidates, claiming cash on hand 28 days before primary of over $400K

Chances for Success

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The winner of the primary will have to face Republican Dan Harrop -- and former mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci.

Rhode Island College Professor of Communications Val Endress recently broke down for GoLocal what each of the candidates needs to do to win the primary -- and now there are just two.

"Solomon argues that he was instrumental in Angel Taveras' success in avoiding the fiscal category five hurricane.  But whether that message resonates beyond political junkies and new media is in question," said Endress. "Candidates are only as relevant as latest new story and the story for Solomon is not at all positive.  His problems with the ethics commission may prove to be his Achilles' heel."

Of Elorza, Endress said, "Elorza may be the chief beneficiary of Solomon's missteps.  One cannot underestimate Elorza's ability to capture Angel Taveras' voter base.  He's running an effective campaign, has avoided the typical campaign missteps."



Related Slideshow: Questions Jorge Elorza Must Answer to be Providence’s Next Mayor

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Experience Necessary?

Elorza's the quintessential Providence kid-made-good -- and clearly has the education success story of CCRI to Harvard Law going for him.  He's toiled in the legal trenches, and risen through academic ranks. 

But does that translate to a business acumen and know-how to turn the city around?  Brett Smiley counts starting a successful consulting company.  Although a double-edged sword, Michael Solomon's got the city council experience. 

Elorza's managed cases, and students.  Can he oversee a staff of hundreds -- go toe to toe with the unions?

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Money for Plans?

Opponent Brett Smiley might have dubbed himself the man with the plan, but Elorza's right up there with a litany of proposals for the capital city.  Schools, jobs, public safety, neighborhoods, transportation, diversity, arts and culture, ethics -- Elorza's got plans for it all.

And like Smiley's grand amibtions, the burning question is how will these be funded?  Elorza has a plan to double the city's exports in the next five years, with mentoring opportunities and trade missions as part of the strategy.  Those cost money.   Where will it come from?

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Fundraising prowess?

At the end of the first quarter of 2014, Elorza posted a small lead over Smiley in the cash balance department, with $217,082 in his campaign coffers as compared to Smiley's $191,000 and change.  Both, however, were a distant second and third to Solomon's war chest over over $600,000

As the Democratic candidates duke it out, second quarter filings due at the end of the month will show were the money race stands with less than eight weeks to the primary. 

Of course, whoever wins will have to face a Buddy Cianci waiting in the wings, who told GoLocal he raised over $200,000K in one week -- and expects to have $1 million by the time the primary arrives. 

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Primary Factor?

For the Democrats in the race, the primary is, in fact, the primary concern of the campaigns at the moment, with Harrop and Cianci waiting in the wings for the winner. 

Will Elorza's campaign, based strongly on his Cranston-street upbringing and focus on ethics, differentiate him from political operatives Smiley and Solomon? 

The first test on the path to the Mayor's office will be to best his two top adversaries in September.  Will Elorza's deep city ties and campaign aparatus translate into a get-out-the-vote effort enough to take the Democratic title?

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Final Hurdle?

All of the Providence Mayoral candidates, whether they like it or not, have to address to Buddy card. 

So far, Brett Smiley's been the most vocal -- publicly, at least -- in criticizing former Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, attacking him on his corruption charges and conviction.  Harrop and Elorza have been highly critical, but as aforementioned, the Democrats are focused primarily on the task at hand -- making it past the primary.

If Elorza does advance, can he count on the support of his former Democratic opponents and their backers -- or will there be a mass exodus of those who see Cianci as the more viable candidate?  Republican Dr. Daniel Harrop provides an X factor in the genera election, of course, but a three-way race is vastly different animal than a four-way one before Adrain dropped out.  The winner will need to secure a greater chunk of the electorate. 


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