PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Republican Daniel Harrop said Monday he is “fairly confident” he will remain in the race for Providence mayor, despite mounting pressure to end his campaign in an effort to block independent Buddy Cianci from returning to City Hall.
Harrop said he has multiple factors to consider before he makes a final decision, including whether his presence in the race would actually create an easier path to victory for Cianci, the former mayor who served 4 ½ years in prison following a corruption conviction in 2002.
“It’s not going to be quick, some people want me out yesterday,” Harrop told WPRI.com. Harrop has already missed the Sept. 12 deadline for removing his name from the ballot, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Harrop, Cianci and Democrat Jorge Elorza are scheduled to compete in the Nov. 4 general election. Providence hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since Cianci in 1978 – he left the party to become an independent before his 1982 re-election – and Harrop has acknowledged he stands little chance at breaking the streak this year.
- Jorge Elorza: Candidate profile | On Newsmakers
- Daniel Harrop: Candidate profile | On Newsmakers
- Buddy Cianci: Candidate profile
The 60-year-old East Side psychiatrist, who earned just 16% of the vote during his 2006 run for mayor, has centered his campaign around warning voters that Providence is facing an uncertain financial future. He has said he would seek to place the city into receivership – the state-level equivalent of bankruptcy – if he were to pull off an upset victory.
But Harrop acknowledged he has been approached by several concerned parties asking him to end his single-issue crusade in order to make it more difficult for Cianci to win back his old job. He said he plans to speak with a group of residents about his status in the race at a private meeting Monday night, but indicated he won’t make a final decision until October. He said he isn’t ruling out endorsing another candidate.
Harrop said he has polled the race since Elorza defeated City Council President Michael Solomon in the primary last week, but suggested that his decision on his place in the race would not be made based solely on the outcome of a poll. He noted that Catherine Taylor, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, lives in Providence and would likely faces question about whom she is voting for if Harrop leaves the race.
“It’s easier to say ‘we have a great Republican in the race,’” Harrop said.
Cianci’s presence in the race has already led two candidates to end their campaigns. In July, independent Lorne Adrain withdrew from the field, citing the “substantial risk to the progress” Cianci’s candidacy created for Providence. Last month, Democrat Brett Smiley dropped out of the race and endorsed Elorza for similar reasons.
In a statement, Smiley said a lot people “have made difficult decisions to ensure that our city can keep moving forward.”
“Regardless of political ideology or party, people throughout Providence share a commitment to making sure we never return to the corrupt politics of our past, and I’m confident that Dr. Harrop will make his decision with those values in mind,” Smiley said.
Elorza, a former Housing Court judge, said he isn’t concerned with Harrop’s position in the field.
“We’re staying focused on our campaign to unite Providence; what Dr. Harrop decides to do is up to him,” Elorza said. “That being said, we are always willing to work together with anyone who shares our goal of moving the city forward.”
Cianci served as mayor from 1975 until 1984 when he was forced to resign following a felony assault conviction. He returned in 1990 to win a three-way race for mayor by 317 votes of independent Fred Lippitt. Democrat Andrew Annaldo finished third, but still received more than 14,000 votes in the race.
Cianci said Harrop’s place in the current field wouldn’t “make a bit of difference” in the outcome of the race during a taping of Dan Yorke State of Mind on myRITV. There are just 5,258 registered Republicans in Providence, compared with 65,508 Democrats. 41,938 unaffiliated voters and 382 Moderates.
“He can stay in the race [or] out of the race,” Cianci said. “He’s not going to win the race, that’s for sure.”