Baptista confirmed Wednesday that he’s coming on board as the mayor’s new finance director. “I have been thoroughly impressed with what Angel has been able to accomplish in Providence, and I am excited for the opportunity to join Angel’s team,” he said.
The high-profile hire will fuel further speculation that Taveras is planning to run for governor next year. Polling shows he and Treasurer Gina Raimondo, another likely candidate, are the two most popular politicians in Rhode Island. Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee has signaled in recent weeks he will seek a second term.
Last September, Taveras told WPRI.com he would probably wait until late this year to make a decision about whether to run for governor. He laughed off a question about it at last week’s State of the State, saying he was more concerned with how Providence will fare in Chafee’s 2013-14 state budget.
Baptista brings significant experience in statewide politics to the Taveras team. He served as deputy campaign manager and finance director for 2010 Democratic nominee Frank Caprio’s campaign for governor, and worked as Raimondo’s finance director in 2011.
Baptista and Nick Hemond, who was Caprio’s spokesman, are co-founders of the Hamilton Group consulting firm that assists Democratic candidates for General Assembly. Their clients last year included House Speaker Gordon Fox and Burrillville Rep. Cale Keable.
Outside of politics, Baptista is a sports agent and family advisor for professional hockey players with the firm Points West Sports & Entertainment.
• Related: What the poll says about Rhode Island’s 2014 race for governor (Oct. 3)