Lorne Adrain files to run for mayor of Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Add another name to the list of candidates hoping to become the next mayor of Providence.

Lorne Adrain, a managing director at Ballentine Partners and former chairman of the R.I. Board of Governors for Higher Education, filed official notice Nov. 1 with the R.I. Board of Elections declaring his intention to run for the city’s top job as a Democrat, which will allow him to raise money for a campaign.

“I have been considering it carefully and I plan to launch a formal exploratory effort to gauge community support,” Adrain, who is married to the novelist Ann Hood, told WPRI.com last month.

The East Side resident would join three other Democrats – City Council President Michael Solomon, former Water Supply Board Chairman Brett Smiley and former Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza – as well as Republican Daniel Harrop in the race to replace Mayor Angel Taveras, who announced last week he is running for governor.

Adrain graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1976 before attending business school at Harvard University. The 59-year-old has worked as an executive at AT&T and served on numerous nonprofit boards in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

His current firm, Ballentine Partners, specializes in “financial planning and wealth management for individuals with substantial wealth and incomes,” according to its website. He also founded KindMark, a company that created software and technologies to advance philanthropy. It was sold in 2004.

Although he has never held public office, Adrain has been involved in state politics for more than two decades. Filings with the elections board show Adrain, who is registered as an unaffiliated voter, has contributed $3,275 to more than a half-dozen prominent politicians since 2008, including Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

In 1990, Adrain was slated to run for lieutenant governor alongside Republican Gov. Ed DiPrete, but he never disaffiliated from the Democratic Party after voting in its 1988 party primary, according to a report published in The Providence Journal. Because Adrain wasn’t a registered Republican within 90 days of the filing deadline, he was not allowed to run for the office on the GOP ticket.

William Foulkes, husband of CVS Caremark executive and former R.I. Economic Development Corporation board member Helena Foulkes, will serve as Adrain’s campaign treasurer. Foulkes is a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design and led Raimondo’s pension advisory group in 2011.

A relative unknown in city politics, Adrain is entering a field of heavyweights vying to succeed Taveras.

Solomon, an Elmhurst Democrat whose father Anthony served as the state’s treasurer for six terms between 1977 and 1993, loaned his campaign $250,000 in June and reported $516,773 on hand as of Sept. 30.

Solomon has been not-so-quietly laying the groundwork for a mayoral run ever since Taveras’s name began to get thrown around as a possible candidate for governor. He has already hired Josh Padwa – the son of City Solicitor Jeff Padwa – to assist with the race and is expected to formally kick off his campaign early next year.

Smiley, an openly gay lobbyist and political consultant from the city’s wealthy East Side, made a splash over the summer when former state Sen. Myrth York and Lauren Nocera, who managed Taveras’s successful mayoral campaign in 2010, joined his exploratory committee.

Smiley, who until recently served as chairman of the Providence Water Supply Board, ended the third quarter with $97,317 on hand.

Elorza, the son of Guatemalan immigrants who went on to attend Harvard Law School, stepped down from the Providence Housing Court bench in August to begin raising money for a run for mayor. The Silver Lake Democrat reported $79,784 on hand for the quarter that ended Sept. 30.

State Rep. John Lombardi, a former City Council president who finished second against Taveras in 2010, told WPRI.com he is leaning toward running for mayor again, but said he will make his final decision before the end of the year. Lombardi had just $1,226 in his campaign account as of Sept. 30.

Harrop, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Cicilline in 2006, is the only Republican in the race. A psychiatrist from the East Side, Harrop loaned his campaign $100,000 in June after announcing his candidacy.

Providence hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since Vincent “Buddy” Cianci won the office more than 30 years ago. Cianci later became an independent – and remains a wild card for next year’s race.

Now a popular talk radio host for WPRO-AM, Cianci ran City Hall for parts of four decades between 1975 and 2002, but was forced to resign in disgrace twice. In 1984, he stepped down after pleading no contest to assaulting a man, but won back the office in 1990. In 2002, he was convicted of racketeering conspiracy and sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Cianci hasn’t ruled out making a third comeback. Last month, former Mayor Joe Paolino, one of Cianci’s best friends, told WPRI.com that “there are many qualified leaders in the city of Providence who are encouraging him to run.”

“I think his experience and can-do attitude would make him a very qualified candidate,” Paolino said. “He would do a good job.”

Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

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