GOP’s Harrop donates $1,000 to Elorza in race for Providence mayor

Republican Daniel Harrop, independent Vincent "Buddy" Cianci and Democrat Jorge Elorza are the three candidates for mayor of Providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – First it was the state’s congressional delegation. Now Democrat Jorge Elorza is getting financial support from one of his opponents in the race for mayor of Providence.

Elorza’s campaign confirmed Sunday that Republican candidate Dr. Daniel Harrop recently contributed $1,000 to the 37-year-old Democrat, the latest sign that the two rivals have formed an unlikely alliance to help block independent Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. from winning back City Hall.

In an email Sunday, Harrop also confirmed he had made a contribution to Elorza, but referred all questions to the Democrat. Elorza campaign manager Marisa O’Gara confirmed the donation, but declined to comment further.

The maximum contribution any candidate or political action committee can receive in a calendar year is $1,000, according to the Rhode Island Board of Elections.

Elorza, Harrop and Cianci are running to succeed incumbent Mayor Angel Taveras, who is leaving office after one term following his loss in the in Democratic primary for governor Sept. 9. Taveras has endorsed Elorza’s candidacy.

Harrop, a 60-year-old psychiatrist from the East Side whose campaign theme has been to place Providence into receivership, has acknowledged that he has faced pressure to drop out of the race in recent months, but he routinely says that he has purchased advertising and scheduled campaign appearances through the Nov. 4 election. While his name will appear on the ballot Nov. 4, he has not said whether he’ll formally endorse Elorza before Election Day.

Harrop has regularly attacked Cianci in the six weeks since the primary, issuing several critical press releases and targeting his previous tenures as mayor during candidate forums and debates. Last week, he called for the 73-year-old Cianci to release his medical records to prove he is healthy enough to serve if he’s elected mayor. Cianci was treated for cancer earlier this year.

Reached Sunday night, Cianci called Harrop’s decision to donate to Elorza “an insult to the Republican Party.”

“This brings tag-team wrestling to a new level,” Cianci said. “It’s a fraud, it’s a scheme and it’s a scam on the city of Providence’s voters.”

Cianci, who served has mayor for parts of four decades between 1975 and 2002 but was twice forced to resign following felony convictions, has faced an onslaught of criticism from Democrats and Republicans since entering the race. Democrat Gina Raimondo and Republican Allan Fung, the two leading candidates for governor this year, both oppose Cianci’s candidacy.

Last Tuesday, three former U.S. attorneys – including U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and former Republican Gov. Lincoln Almond – held a press conference to urge voters to reject Cianci.

At a forum the same day, Harrop praised the group for targeting Cianci.

“I appreciate the bipartisan effort and I think that may be a model on how the last three weeks of this mayoral election should go,” Harrop said.

This isn’t the first time Harrop has crossed party lines to help a mayoral candidate.

In 2010, he contributed $250 to Taveras nine days after the Democratic primary, according to a WPRI.com review of campaign finance reports filed with the Board of Elections. Taveras went on to win 82% of the vote in his general election victory over independent Jon Scott.

Harrop also ran for mayor in 2006, but was walloped by Democratic incumbent David Cicilline. He ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2010 and narrowly lost a race for chairman of the state’s Republican Party in 2013.

Robert Paquin, executive director of the state Republican Party, said he was disappointed by Harrop’s donation.

“If he feels Cianci is so bad for Providence, he needs to step out and endorse,” Paquin said. “That wouldn’t be much better, but at least it would be honest.”

A WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll released last month showed Cianci in the lead at 38%, with Elorza trailing close behind at 32%. Harrop was a distant third at 6%. One in five voters – 21% – said they were still undecided.

Elorza has benefited from an outpouring of support since defeating City Council President Michael Solomon and Chris Young in the Democratic primary. Solomon quickly endorsed his candidacy, as did several high-profile Democrats from across the state. The state’s federal congressional delegation also hosted a fundraiser for Elorza earlier this month.

Harrop had $90,058 cash on hand as of Oct. 6, compared with Cianci’s $301,539 and Elorza’s $160,195.

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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