Joe Paolino throwing $500-a-head fundraiser for Mayor Taveras

By Dan McGowan

A former mayor of Providence who ran unsuccessfully for governor is raising money for Mayor Angel Taveras as he gears up to run for the state’s top job in 2014.

No, not Buddy.

Joseph Paolino, who ran Rhode Island’s capital city from 1984 until 1990 before losing a Democratic primary for governor to Bruce Sundlun, is hosting a $500-a-head fundraiser for Taveras at Circe, the popular downtown restaurant located two blocks from Paolino’s real estate business.

The event is Sept. 23 at 5:30 p.m., according to an invitation obtained by WPRI.com. Paolino did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taveras, a first-term Democrat, has hired consultants and begun raising money for next year’s governor’s race, where he’ll likely face General Treasurer Gina Raimondo in a primary. Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced he would not seek re-election earlier this month. Taveras and Raimondo are expected formally enter the race before the end of the year.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican, has formed an exploratory committee as he considers whether to run for governor and Moderate Party founder Ken Block has already announced his plans to run again next year. Block has said he is polling to see whether he should run as a Republican.

A Paolino party could certainly provide a boost for Taveras as the Sept. 30 campaign finance filing deadline nears.

The mayor had $692,590 in his campaign war chest as of June 30, which paled in comparison to Raimondo’s $2.06 million cash on hand, according to filings with the state Board of Elections. The treasurer is throwing a high-profile fundraiser of her own next Thursday at Roger Williams Park Casino.

Rhode Island has never elected a Latino, a woman, an Asian-American or a member of Moderate Party governor – it also hasn’t elevated a mayor of Providence to the governor’s office since Dennis Roberts in 1950.

Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, a Republican, was trounced by incumbent Joseph Garrahy in 1980 and Paolino finished third behind Sundlun and Warwick Mayor Francis Flaherty despite winning the endorsement from the Democratic Party in 1990.

Congressman David Cicilline, who defeated Paolino in the 2002 Providence Democratic mayoral primary, is the only elected official since Roberts to win higher office after serving as mayor. He won his U.S. House seat in 2010 and was re-elected in 2012.

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