Dee from the Desk: All eyes on Providence - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Dee from the Desk: All eyes on Providence

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Move over Gina Raimondo, Angel Taveras, Clay Pell, Ken Block, and Allan Fung, your race is no long the most interesting race in Rhode Island; the Providence mayor’s race is.

As Buddy Cianci made history yesterday announcing that he will run for Mayor of Providence as an independent, the governor’s race was shifted to the back burner as people across the country turned their eyes to the smallest state’s capital city.

As an Independent, Cianci will face off against the winner of the Democratic Primary, Republican Dan Harrop, and fellow Independent Lorne Adrain in the General Election.

Cianci is no fool. This four way showdown is precisely what he needs to retake his beloved capital city and end his career where for the most part it started, Providence.

Some say the city has changed and Cianci doesn’t enjoy the same support that he had years ago. Others say Cianci’s record is too tarnished after Operation Plunder Dome and that his stay at federal prison seven years ago killed his chance of ever being re-elected. While others, are enthused by the idea that Cianci’s name will once again appear on the ballot.

While the skeptics have a point, Cianci would not be making a run if he didn’t think he had a shot, and a very good one at that. In a four way race Cianci could become the next Mayor of Providence with around 30% of the vote. If people think that Cianci can’t grab at least 30% of voters in Providence in November, they are fooling themselves. Cianci’s name on the ballot will turn a lot of voters out and Cianci still enjoys popularity in Providence. Not to mention the people who do support Cianci’s run are the kind of people with money and influence. These people won’t hesitate to dump dollars and support into Cianci’s campaign. These people along with most Rhode Islanders know that Cianci doesn’t forget when people help him out.

With Lorne Adrain as an Independent, the Democratic candidate is sure to suffer. Adrain is likely to siphon off some of the east side liberal support from the Democratic candidate, the Democratic candidate will grab the good government Democrats and the die-hard Democrats that can’t imagine voting outside of the party, Republican Dan Harrop will grab the anti-Buddy Republicans and a few other wildcard voters, leaving Cianci with his base of supporters, and a pro-Buddy Republican faction. Cianci is also likely to grab some union endorsements as well. The only problem will be whether the unions are concerned with their public appearance. Will it look bad if they endorse a convicted felon?

Cianci is clearly popular among many city workers including public safety personnel. If the unions can figure out a way to justify their support for Cianci it’s likely that the former mayor will enjoy their support. There is always the possibility that some unions stay out of the race if they are afraid to have a public endorsement of Cianci but secretly support him.

The other question is where will the Latino vote go? Will the Latino vote be split up between the candidates or will they vote Democrat? If Jorge Elorza is the candidate, his name alone will likely attract Latino voters. If Brett Smiley or Michael Soloman win the primary it is more of a toss up.

Either way, Cianci in the race is a game changer for Providence. Sure, his opponents will have a whole arsenal of dirt to lob against him but it is nothing that everyone doesn’t already know. Through Cianci’s radio career and his book he has been pretty candid with the people about his career. It’s Cianci’s candid nature and “buddy-like” personality that has endeared him to voters. Cianci is a legend, inside and outside of Rhode Island and Rhode Islanders eat that up. So while there may be dirt on Cianci, Cianci is not going to hide from it and he is likely to lob his own bombs back. Cianci is well connected and can run a well oiled political machine when put to the task, his candidacy is anything but good news for the others in the race.

Cianci’s biggest struggle will be the actual campaigning. Back in the day, Cianci was a master campaigner but years have passed, Cianci has gotten older, and his likely Democratic opponents, Brett Smiley, Michael Soloman, or Jorge Elorza are likely to have a lot more to put into the race. The only thing is Cianci doesn’t have to try as hard as the other candidates to be recognized. His name is a household name in this state. Cianci needs to get out and shake some hands but will not need to work as hard to get his name out there. Cianci will have to put some effort in with the city’s Latino community as the city is not the same place that it was years ago when he was mayor. Candidates need the Latino vote or at least a portion of it to win the race. Unless, of course, they don’t turn out to vote which is a possibility in an off year election. Then again, while this may be an off year election for the rest of the state, in Providence it promises to be the election of the century.

Follow me on Twitter: @deedequattro

Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.

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