Capellan Exits the Providence Mayoral Field; Lombardi Leaning Toward "Yes"

Sep 9, 2013

Central Falls educator Victor Capellan has folded the tent on his 2014 Providence mayoral run, leaving Jorge Elorza as the lone Latino candidate in the race.

Capellan, a longtime political activist, says Elorza didn't encourage him to leave the campaign. Yet it's clear that the departure, coming on the heels of Ward 15 Councilwoman Sabina Matos' decision last week to seek re-election, accrues to Elorza's benefit.

The field of candidates to succeed Angel Taveras will likely see further changes. Two of the main question marks are Buddy Cianci -- who has said he might not reveal his intentions until the filing deadline next year -- and state Representative John J. Lombardi (D-Providence). East Side businessman Lorne Adrain, the former chairman of the Board of Governors for Higher Education, says he's still "very much" considering a run. too.

Lombardi, a longtime former city councilor who briefly served as acting mayor following Cianci's departure from office in 2002, says he remains undecided about a race. But if he had to make a decision today, he says, "I would probably say, 'Yes.' "

Lombardi has less than $2000 in his campaign account, and still owes $63,000 on a $100,000 loan from his 2010 campaign for mayor. But Lombardi placed second to Taveras in that race, ahead of the high-spending Steven M. Costantino, and he touts himself as a formidable candidate who is well-known in the city and would work hard to build support.

"I think I have the best ground game," says Lombardi, downplaying the significance of the debt he's carrying from his last mayoral campaign. On the timing for making a decision he says, "I think I have a little more latitude because of my name recognition."

For now, the Democratic field consists of City Council President Michael Solomon; Elorza, a law school professor at Roger Williams University; and consultant Brett Smiley, all Democrats. Republican Daniel Harrop is also running.

Each of the Democrats calls a different part of the city home. Elorza resides in Silver Lake, Solomon in Mount Pleasant, and Smiley on the East Side.

Capellan says his decision was based in part on timing and the demands he faces as a deputy superintendent in Central Falls. In a statement, he says:

"Much of my exploration has been to see the role I can play in creating new opportunities for the citizens of Providence.This belief is what led me to pursue the goal of being Mayor of the City of Providence. An important aspect of the exploration has been to ensure that I can do all that is necessary to run successfully for the Office of Mayor of Providence while maintaining the high level of commitment to the work we have been doing in our neighbor to the north - Central Falls. Our neighboring city has made a remarkable transformation, but much work remains."

Capellan says he's considering the education platforms of the Democratic candidates and will make an endorsement decision largely on the basis of that issue in the weeks to come.

Solomon's main advantage for now is his big head start in a fundraising, with a war chest of almost $500,000. So there will be a lot of interest in how Smiley and Elorza fare in their fundraising in the quarter concluding at the end of this month.

Yet the election to succeed Taveras will also hinge on questions of which candidate is best qualified to move Providence forward -- and that debate has yet to begin.

This post has been updated